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Are clinical ladders only for nursing?

June 18, 2009
by Susan D. Gilster and Jennifer L. Dalessandro
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There is no doubt that the nursing department houses a large number of employees. It is, most often, the largest department and provides most of the hands-on care for the residents. But does that make the nursing department employees different, better, or more important? Certainly not! Have you ever been to a facility with no dietary or housekeeping departments, with no one to answer the phone or work in admissions? Other departments are necessary and important, as well.

An organizational approach recognizes and values all employees in all departments, and has a willingness to see every employee grow, learn and achieve. It takes all staff and all positions to work collectively and collaboratively to provide quality care and meet the needs of residents and families. They are also responsible to work to meet the needs of one another. For an assisted living or long-term care facility to be successful, it is important that every person touched by the organization is served, including service to the staff from management, leadership, and one another.

Clinical ladders are not the only means for growth and development of staff and should be only one method offered to employees. Other means include internal formal and informal education and support programs. After orientation, which is critical for new staff, ongoing education serves as a means of continued growth and development to enhance knowledge and improve performance. There is little education or information that serves only the nursing department. Shouldn’t the housekeeping staff and activities understand the needs of aging adults, or the reason for the behaviors of persons with dementia? They too will come into contact with those residents and the more equipped they are with this knowledge, the better they will be able to serve the residents and provide appropriate attention and assistance.

Formal offerings outside of a facility are wonderful opportunities for all staff to engage. There are multiple programs for all departments, including activities, maintenance, receptionists, and others. When staff has the opportunity to attend external programs they have a chance to meet others in their field, to learn, grow, and return stimulated and motivated. Staff armed with new knowledge will share new learning with their colleagues, enhancing the growth of others.

If the organizational expectation is for all staff and departments to work together, doing whatever it takes to ensure quality care and service, opportunities to grow and be recognized and compensated should be included for all staff, all departments, all shifts.

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