Let’s Get Organized

Let’s Get Organized post page

By Debi Tyler NewsomJanuary 14th, 2021

Let’s Get Organized


by Debi Tyler-Newsom, OTR/L,

PAC Client Relations Director

Lose weight, clean up the garage, and figure out what would help your organization provide better dementia care.

New year means fresh outlooks, hopes, and plans for the new year, 2021. We aren’t sure what happened to 2020, but it is behind us now and we look ahead to the promise of renewal after a year full of challenges and uncertainty.

This is a great time to get organized. There’s something about starting a new year with goals and a resolution for growth and change; we gravitate towards the tools that will help. Plastic storage containers, planners, and organizing devices are common purchases as we round the corner of December and head into January. Even when things don’t materialize exactly as we expect, it always feels like we got farther along than we would have without a plan.

What does getting organized mean for an organization that provides dementia care services? It’s really no different than a personal plan to lose weight or organize the garage tools. A good plan starts with a vision of a new outcome. The tangible vision of that outcome is a goal. With weight loss it might be a smaller dress size, a summer bikini, or a set number of pounds to shed. For the cluttered garage, it might be a glossy magazine photo of bins and hooks and everything in its place, all with appropriate labels.

When an organization wants to improve services for those they care for, the vision might begin with awareness of new skills that staff could use to make a difference. It might be imagining family members that rave to others about the care their loved one receives. Perhaps it is a desire for better staff retention, fewer reports documenting patient/staff incidents, lower use of medication to manage behaviors, or weary staff feeling refreshed with new found enjoyment in their daily responsibilities.

Once there is a vision of new outcomes, the next step is to explore options and set short term goals. Taking the time to explore options is an important step. Evaluate all the possible choices to reach goals. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. When groups call the PAC info line to ask about having Teepa do a talk, they often have no awareness that there are a multitude of additional resources and options available for their organization.

Once options are explored, there may be a series of short-term goals that lead to the outcome. Long-term goals are aligned with the larger outcome. Short-term goals help break the process into smaller, desired, and achievable steps. Short term goals for losing weight might be two lbs. per week or eliminating desserts from the weekday routine. In the messy garage, it might be to have the garden tools sorted and hung up in one corner away from the car cleaning products.

In a healthcare community, short-term goals might be to identify a team who can organize and support the staff training and a plan to add a dementia module into new employee orientation. Small measurable steps with a realistic time frame. The garden section of the garage looks neat, but there are still bicycle parts and wood-working tools heaped in the corner. The next goal is to go to Home Depot tomorrow and buy a sheet of pegboard and collection of hooks.

How do you measure progress towards goals? If the short-term goals are objective enough, data can be collected and compared to the desired outcome. The bathroom scale will tell me if I have lost four lbs. over the last two weeks. When I look for the garden shovel, I know just where to find it. Measurable goals in dementia care should be identified that can be quantified and looked at objectively.

So, what if I grabbed two chocolate chip cookies on Thursday or tossed the garden shovel over by the picnic items last time I used it? Or what if the dementia leadership team has a staff person quarantined with COVID-19 for two weeks or even leave the facility for a new position? Life happens. Take a breath, reassess the situation, get needed support, re-focus on the goal and try again. Persistence pays off, as we discover in the dressing room of the department store in May, or when looking for the garden sprinkler in June or when you walk down the hall of the facility seeing staff smile and greet others as they approach and deliver care.

What kind of support does the facility you are connected to need to organize their dementia care program? Click to find ways that PAC can enhance your organization. Interested organizations can begin with a questionnaire or application. Email the PAC Team to start now.

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