Ageism is defined as prejudice or discrimination on the basis of someone’s age. Civic and business leaders across the globe are accelerating “age friendly – dementia friendly” initiatives. The explosive growth of worldwide population marching quickly toward old age is forcing change in virtually every area of society. Cities are redesigning transporation systems, public centers and revamping outdated services. At the same time, business leaders are turning toward experts to achieve productive workplace teams made up of 4 or 5 generations. Health and long term care is turning toward technology and how to train and retain the workforce needed to provide services for today’s elders that at a growing clip will be among the largest oldest group we have ever witnessed – centenarians.
Sustainability in training programs that improve patient and resident outcomes is critically important. Upper and middle managment must embrace change initiatives in order to successfully compete in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
But what happens after these programs are implemented? Far too often we hear that wonderful “culture change” programs faded in time, often because the champions were no longer with the company, or had moved to other positions. Unfortuantely for the organization, this means an investment of time, money and resources had gone to waste. This may be a result of poor planning and program implementation or simply a matter of not enough staff to oversee the program to ensure its success. In addition, many such programs are limited by proper funding and acceptance by upper management to the extent that there is never a cohesiveness to keep the elements of the program working smoothly.
It IS possible to have program sustainability. With proper planning, collaborative efforts with training partners and the placement of champion leaders throught the employee spectrum, sustainable programmming is very possible. In fact, we know that it can work! Below are just some examples of how programs can be made sustainable.
- Champion leaders are made of upper, middle management and staff. All team members working together on change initiatives is vital.
- Management should encourage problem-solving skills among all staff as new programs are implemented. Without idea generators, how would new practices every get off the ground?
- Provide incentives for staff who practice culture change initiatives and embrace these in their everyday care routines. By including simple accountability systems using champion leaders, this will insure that new tools are being used effectively and efficiently.
- Make certain that everyone understands the big picure of why new practices are being implemented.
- And finally, sustainability is afterall, not just about how you run your business but how you treat your staff.
I’m not a big fan of reality TV shows. The “supposedly” unscripted real-life situations to me are far from a virtual tour through life. That said, I do find myself entertained from time to time at the subject matter some creative person comes up with to actually create a show. Unbelievable…
I visited with a dear friend recently who has been caring for her sweet mother for many years. Once healthy and mobile, age and illness is slowly taking its toll Painful neuropathy, crippling arthritis and diminishing eyesight have teamed up to challenge her spirit and soul. My friend is tired and I often see glimpses of resentment, despite her deep love, respect and genuine concern for providing the care she deserves. This scenario could easily be a true reality tv show, however the ratings would struggle.
The senior care work force of tomorrow should be at the top of discussion topics for eldercare leaders. Investing in development and retention of great workers, along with competitive wages and benefits is vital. Many areas of the country are already facing critical shortages in front line staff and this trend will no doubt spread quickly as baby boomers need increasing aging services.
The eldercare sphere offers young workers growth in a dynamic field that will continue to open doors of opportunities for decades ahead. Beyond that, it’s critically important that the altruisitc side of the “business” provides avenues to provide purpose in our lives.
Creating forward-thinking workers means creating ways for their voices and ideas to be heard; tools that empower them to grow and flourish as team members in your organization; and lastly to guide them in their path of being the best they can be in the challenging work that they do each and every day.
In his article, The Senior Care Workforce-Raising the Floor of Job Quality, Steven Dawson tell us, “…stakeholders must recalculate their economic self-interest and begin to compete for those workers whom they have heretofore presumed – by making direct care jobs more attractive relative to competing occupations. This can be achieved through higher pay and benefits, predictable hours, better training and greater support.”
Stop, look and listen to those who carry your business mission out every day; build teams of idea makers, and recognize the accomplishments and miracles that take place each and every day by those that work and live alongside your residents, patients, clients or customers.
Invest first and leaders will follow.