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The joy of hiring great caregivers

July 28, 2011
by Frieda Stewart, RN
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Hiring is often a flip of the coin. In my experience, we strive to hire great people and often they are less than desirable. But every once in a while we get lucky and hire an employee who is exceptional in character, drive, dependability and fortitude.

To be quite honest with you, I don’t even remember the day I interviewed Casey. Nothing stood out about her that would make me think twice. However, right away Casey blended in with the staff very well. She was never part of any drama and never had a complaint spoken against her. She kept to herself and was very kind to our residents.

Soon I noticed that every day at the end of her shift, Casey’s hall assignment sheet always had FYI comments for me. Maybe someone hadn’t had a BM in several days, or a resident complained of this or that. Or a skin issue needed attention. Wow. Every day Casey went out of her way to look at the ADL sheets and took note of important things that concerned the residents.

At her six-month evaluation I told Casey how awesome she was, how I appreciated how she would go above and beyond the call of duty. I bet you will all agree—these are the ones we wish we could clone! You all know which ones I’m speaking about—we all have them—a select few who come to work on time, every time. These are the employees who never call in, who go above and beyond what is expected of them. Additionally, they will work extra shifts when asked. They love our residents and the residents love them. These are also the employees who are expected to be responsible, ethical and dependable but often the ones who go unappreciated. They do what is expected of them without notice.

I realized that I hadn’t told Casey how much I appreciated her—more than just at evaluation time—every day. We all need to make extra effort to tell these select few how much we appreciate them. Remember that those who seem to not need our thanks probably deserve it the most. Thank you to all the Caseys out there!

Author Frieda Stewart, RN, is the Director of Nursing at Corn Heritage Village in Corn, Okla.; the owner and CEO of VitalAttitudes, LLC; and a public speaker who travels all across the United States.

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Comments

Bravo to you Frieda, for taking the time to recognize a great employee and most importantly, to tell that employee how much you appreciate her. Employers/supervisors constantly fail to realize the great importance that recognition and appreciation plays in the level of satisfaction an employee feels on the job. In most every satisfaction survey I have ever seen, recognition and appreciation consistently rank higher than pay as a determinant in job satisfaction. Yet, recognition and appreciation also consistently come up when it comes to areas that employees want to see more of from their supervisors.

Those of us who work or who have worked in long term care understand the vital role that the front line caregivers play in our facilities. In many ways, they are the face of our facilities and our ambassadors to patients and families. Their work is difficult and too often thankless-they deserve our respect and appreciation.

Thanks Frieda, for reminding all of us of the importance of a simple, "Thank you for a job well done".

If we strive to hire good caregivers and "often they are "less than desireable," this only reflects poor hiring practices or decisions on the part of supervisors. Which then would lead me to question the efficacy of any ongoing employee evaluations.

Front line caregivers' work is far more difficult than most recognize. When one knows that one's job depends on the consistent delivery of competent care to the most complex and fragile of already exquisitely complex human beings, and that a single error could cause serious injury or death, one accumulates a level of stress that is hard for someone outside the role to appreciate.

While I am heartened to read that at least one supervisor is looking for exceptional direct care employees, I know from over twenty years of my own experience that this is usually not the case. Additionally, I would remind readers that one of the greatest maxims of our work is that we cannot adequately care for someone else if we are not able to adequately care for ourselves. If you haven't tried to do this yourself on $8 or $9 an hour in the current economic environment, you will not understand.

Kudos and other expressions of appreciation are nice, and DO inspire others. I would also challenge DONs and other supervisors to ask themselves whether their employees, especially the exceptional ones, can continue to provide that level of care to 6, 9, 12 or even 20 fragile elders indefinitely without substantive rewards such as pay increases or paid time off. Nothing would more inspire those performing below average (or newly hired) to improve than that...

And where is the mention of providing new or sub-average employees with training/retraining opportunities? Human beings are dynamic creatures capable of change and growth with inspired leadership!

~Charles Macknee, MA

Frieda Stewart

www.vitalattitudes.com

Author Frieda Stewart, RN, is the Director of Nursing at Corn Heritage Village in Corn, Oklahoma...