I’ve said it before, and believe it is worth repeating. Holidays can present a unique challenge for long-term care leadership teams.
As the Fourth of July holiday is approaching, the country prepares for celebrations, picnics, cookouts, and fun with family and friends. As a long-term care leader, are you exited for the celebration, or are you overwhelmed with anxiety bracing for staff call-offs on another holiday?
Typically, I see two scenarios lead me to believe that your attitude, actions and culture determine your ability to enjoy or dread holidays in long-term care.
The first scenario involved attending a leadership team meeting, where the leaders and managers were complaining about the number of staff who would probably call off for the holiday weekend. Dreading the weekend, they were already mad at some of the staff with a history of such behavior – even though it was two weeks week before the holiday with no call-offs yet!
Members of the leadership team were discussing their own family plans and trying to sort out who on among them would be responsible for covering for employees who called off, and preparing a schedule of coverage for the entire long weekend. It was not a particularly happy experience.
The second scenario was a leadership team who were planning a variety of fun events for the upcoming long holiday weekend. Managers were volunteering to be responsible for various activities and food as well as times that they would be at the facility for the holiday – simply for fun – not as a requirement for staffing. They showed no concern that the staff would call off. The leadership and management team believed that the staff would be at work as scheduled to care for the residents, because they were dedicated to their colleagues and facility. This team was laughing, happy and honestly trying to outdo one another in offering ideas of events to create the most fun events for both staff and residents.
Holidays can be enjoyable occasions for the residents and staff. Plan a party, a cookout, get all staff engaged in decorating and determining what special foods should be prepared and offered. Facility leadership, as well as managers need to be present at some point on holidays to encourage a “we are all in this together” attitude. Lead by example. Consider – as a staff member – if the leader and all of the management staff are always off on a holiday, what would be your level of commitment? Why should the staff be the only ones to work holidays and why should it always be a burden to only the direct service staff?
Working some part of a holiday weekend is an opportunity for facility leadership – to be with residents and families in a festive environment, and as a chance to further relationships with residents, families and staff in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. It demonstrates that the organization exists as one whole – equally supportive and responsible. Believe me, employees will notice, and they will be grateful, for gestures such as this promote staff satisfaction and retention.
Happy Fourth of July to the leaders and to all staff in long-term care, no matter where you are.