As a residential or service provider for seniors, it is easy to get caught up with meeting State and Federal regulations, financial issues, personnel turnover, and dealing with the everyday running of a business. That said, the real priority is how well you can care for the seniors and their families whom place lives in your trust. Priority One is your Resident.
How can you easily improve how you serve your senior customer in a more Heart Centered manner?
1. Make it easy for communication with family to occur – to and from. This includes phone usage (and long distance) any time of day. Ease for family members to connect with a ‘live’ caregiver any time of day. Most family members work and many live in different time zones, how easy to you make it for them to maintain communication with their family member but also with YOU?
- Do you have a 1-800 number?
- Can people leave a message besides voice mail? Something like a website plugin called Vicita can allow a person to type in their message to the company for answering.
- Is there a ‘live’ person answering phones at all times?
- Can the senior access a phone easily and have privacy (very important) any time of day?
2.Sexuality and Intimacy – these two issues seem to be human needs that service providers and facilities shy away from. Do the people you serve have opportunities for intimacy with another resident, spouses, or their significant other? If not, why? Just because a person is, a senior doesn’t mean that their sex drive or need for intimacy is gone. Can a wife of a resident visit and spend the night with her husband who is under your care?
Please take some time to really see how your service can create a more responsive environment to meet the very basic needs of people – intimacy, sexuality, and maintaining closeness with another person.
3. No matter how hard we try, staff will treat whom they serve differently for a variety of reasons and that isn’t going to change. The question is how do we turn that into a positive?
Some solutions may include in creating a biography of each senior served – learn about the person’s past, hobbies once enjoyed, topics of discussion they enjoy, adventures they’ve experienced, and so forth. Involve family of the senior for more detail. In doing this, you allow staff to more fully recognize each senior as the individual they are and what kinds of life they had before becoming more limited. This exercise helps create relationships, for staff to view seniors they serve differently, and for a more ‘family’ environment to exist. Post the biography in the senior’s room so staff will always remember the wonderful life of the person they serve.
Have the seniors you serve create their own Adventure List vs. a Bucket List. Help those you serve to accomplish, in some manner, what they still want to get out of life.
Have the family create a collage of pictures, events, and other special moments of their senior family member. The collage should then be mounted in the resident’s room.
A great model is having staff responsible for seniors they prefer to work with. While working in an ICF, we had several staff that all preferred the same residents and they became a group of staff and residents who were always together. Other staff loved working with other residents and the model was repeated. The result was a significant improvement in the quality of care, less regression for residents, happier residents, less staff turnover, and much happier staff. Win-Win.
Creating a Heart Centered business doesn’t mean the business of being in business is any less but rather more. Adding in services, such as mentioned, create enormous intangible results that benefit seniors, staff, families, and your business. Tangible results will also be seen and many of them will be ones you would not have thought of.
Calling one’s self a Heart Centered business is common but how many are actually doing it fully? Discover and try various ways to create your own results achieving Heart Centered business and your business will thrive in the process.