6 steps to manage post-election reactions in LTC

Posted by Dr. El - November 22, 2016 - Communication, McKnight's Long-Term Care News, Personal Reflections, Resident education/Support groups, Stress/Crisis management - 5 Comments

Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:


6 steps to manage post-election reactions in LTC

The 2016 presidential election has revealed a deep rift in our country, and quite possibly in our long-term care facilities as well.

While some employees and residents are pleased about the election results, it’s likely that others in your community are considerable less so.

An informal survey of my fellow geropsychologists revealed the following situations occurring in their nursing homes:

• Staff arguments regarding politics.

• Anger in residents, some of whom are misdirecting their anger.

• Residents and staff members who are dismayed, distraught or depressed regarding the election results and the direction of the country.

• Residents reporting that staff members told them they voted for Trump but asked them to keep this secret because they don’t want their Clinton-supporting coworkers to know.

• Staff who openly voted for and are discussing their Trump votes with clients as a point of pride, without recognizing the impact on their disabled clients after Trump’s mocking of a disabled person.

• Transgender residents concerned they are going to be “outed” and will be refused the medication they’ve been taking for years to maintain their health.

• Aides and other staff (housekeeping, kitchen workers) crying in staff lounges out of fear that some of their family members might be deported and that they, too, would have to return to their country of origin because they wouldn’t be able to afford to stay here on their own. As they shared their fears with their respective residents, the possibility that their beloved aide might leave them added to the anxiety the resident might have already felt about the election results.

• Staff concerned about their jobs and the future of healthcare; residents fearful they will no longer be eligible for Medicaid if the laws change.

Certainly not every facility is experiencing such reactions — a psychologist working in a VA home indicated that the veterans seemed generally positive about the prospect of President Trump.

Another psychologist reported that a Romanian Holocaust survivor was pleased with Trump’s win because he’d feared the country was moving toward a socialist model he’d unhappily lived through previously.

With our diverse population of residents and staff members, however, it’s likely there are at least some people in our communities who are experiencing distress and would benefit from reassurance and support from those in charge.

Here are 6 ways to accomplish this:

1. If you haven’t already done so, send a memo requesting that staff members refrain from discussing politics, especially in front of residents.

2. Reiterate to staff members the corporate policies regarding discrimination and express a commitment to a fair and bias-free environment.

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6 steps to manage post-election reactions in LTC