How Can My Company Move Past Just Stayin’ Alive?
by Debi Tyler Newsom, OTR/L,
PAC Client Relations Director
The focus this month is schedules and balance. How is your organization or community dealing with the uncertainties of each day? When will things get back to normal, or even, will they get back to normal? Covid variants and staff shortages seem like the new normal. It brings to mind the old Bee Gee’s song, Stayin’ Alive (Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’). Efforts are focused on the immediate, getting from one day to the next. Let’s consider some strategies for maintaining a sense of order and not feeling defeated by the chronic sense of urgency that can be so consuming.
Schedules give us predictability and a sense of order. What are the things that provide a sense of order and structure within an organization? Knowing that staff shifts are covered, that proper care is being delivered, and that those who come to work have the energy, skill, and ability to get the job done, might be a few things you could list.
When we operate with a constant level of high distress, the impact on morale, energy level, and job satisfaction become apparent. There is little time for creative initiatives, enhanced services, or even having fun. Leadership staff may recognize the need to re-energize staff, develop skills, and begin programs, but may feel helpless with the urgency of daily demands.
Dementia care training often falls into the category of we need it, but can’t think about it right now. What are some small steps that can help maintain a sense of order and advance better care? How can PAC encourage your efforts?
Consider the following:
Self-care - You know the typical airline safety instructions about putting your own oxygen mask on first before you assist a child with their mask? Is that because your safety is more important? Or perhaps because you can’t help someone else effectively if you are struggling yourself. Take the time to do what you need to, balance your day with rest, nutrition, exercise, laughing, and staying present. Moments of self-care might be brief but can still be effective. Look up from the computer and focus on something that inspires you. Step outside for five minutes and take some deep breaths. Post a joke, poem, prayer, or encouraging message. Be intentional about giving yourself those moments throughout your day.
Perspective - Even the biggest challenges pass in time, or we find ways to adapt. Humans are skilled at adapting and becoming more efficient at what they must do. Think back on a situation that seemed overwhelming, but now seems manageable - you only need to go back a year for one example. As time goes on, we adjust, cope, and develop new perspectives. Draw on past experiences to encourage you forward.
Expectations - It’s difficult to recognize the need to change, and not be able to get there. Perhaps you observe care interactions that lack skill or have poor outcomes. Launching a program for training would be a solution, but time, budget, and staffing do not allow for that right now. Is there one small piece that would be practical to implement, such as having staff view a 15-minute video that brings new awareness, or trying a focused drill on one specific skill, such as reflecting a resident’s words and expressions with your own? Small steps build skill.
Grace - Be kind to yourself when your plan gets diverted, when you fall short of a goal, when things take longer to achieve. The important thing is that you persevere towards that goal despite setbacks. Speed bumps and obstacles don’t have to knock you off course - slow progress is still progress. Celebrate the smallest victories!
Support - Change does not happen without a network of support, especially during challenging times. Team up with others who have common goals. PAC is here to help fill in the gaps on dementia training. We can give staff small bites of awareness content, provide coaching and mentoring in small group format, support leadership with realistic and flexible strategies, and help you build tiny teams of staff empowered impact care.
Contact Debi at PAC Training and let us know what we can do to keep you on schedule. Together, we’re stayin’ alive!