Successful New Year’s resolutions, LTC-style
Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.
I do, however, have a list of goals I’d like to accomplish this year, including editing the first draft of my novel, finishing the illustrated book I started, scheduling more speaking engagements, and writing more articles. Plus personal goals such as meditating more often and taking more vacation time.
Perhaps you, like me, have a scroll’s worth of plans for 2017. Maybe you hope to improve hiring practices, boost the census, enhance teamwork and communication, increase insurance reimbursement and begin innovative new programming that generates more income.
Perhaps you, like me, recognize the impossibility of completing all of this in one year.
Rather than resolve to do more than I can possibly accomplish, I prefer to view the beginning of the year as a time to examine the course I’ve been on and to make corrections as needed.
The American Psychological Association (APA) makes several recommendations for individuals around setting goals for the year. I’ve applied their counsel to long-term care organizations below:
1. Start small: The APA suggests making adjustments “that you think you can keep,” rather than sweeping changes. This reminds me of the recommendation offered last year by David Gifford, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President of Quality and Regulatory Affairs of the American Health Care Association to run pilot studies when looking to alter systems within an organization, using the model of “one staff member, one resident, one day.” This creates the opportunity to problem-solve along the way, before substantial time and financial resources have been committed. This template could apply to a multitude of situations, from programming to hiring practices to new ways of monitoring insurance reimbursement.
2. Change one behavior at a time: Unhealthy behaviors in individuals and organizations develop over time and it takes time to replace them with healthy behaviors. The APA suggests choosing a focus of change to prevent becoming overwhelmed by attempting too much at once. For example, a nursing director who’s typically inundated with personnel complaints might create open office hours that allow him or her to be available while reserving time for other important activities. An administrator who wants to address staffing issues could start with half an hour each morning to walk through the facility and talk to employees. A few months later, another action could be taken based on what’s been learned.
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