Even though life in a nursing home becomes routine, a resident's living experience can change quickly. Over the past couple of months several residents were discharged. Because of the lower census, some aides and other staff had their hours cut. When that happens, the staff shows the stress they are feeling. In the fall, nursing homes usually hire extra aides to get through the outbreaks of illness and bad winter weather.
Soon after the census dropped, new residents began moving in. They are in the process of getting used to how this facility runs. During all this, a couple of staff moved on to employment elsewhere.
Residents are used to aides—and sometimes nurses—going in and out of jobs here. Occasionally, aides change shifts because of family obligations or personal health issues. Any time there is a staffing change, residents feel the tension. We wonder who will replace the aides who left and how we will feel about them. We hope they will be engaging and that we will feel better when we see them come through the door.
Nothing is more powerful than a pleasant person. An employee who is willing to engage is invaluable. Since nursing home jobs need to be filled quickly, it is not always possible to get the best “people person” where he or she is needed most. Since the charge nurse cares for residents for either three 12-hour or five 8-hour shifts per week, they need to comfortably fit into the care team.
Two of the current job openings could be filled by experienced aides, and floor aides may want to be considered. With the increased census, however, more aides are needed to work on the floor. In the past few weeks office and management staff have helped out by passing trays, ice and water at meal times.
Although sometimes office and management staff appears reticent, I can understand that it must be strange doing tasks usually handled by others. But to us residents, all the employees are like extended family and we appreciate their assistance.
We residents are curious about who will transport us to medical appointments. We wonder if the transportation aide will play the residents' preferred music on the minivan's radio, or will we be listening to his or her own tunes. I have a mental picture of myself trying to appear unfazed with rap booming on the way to a doctor's appointment.
There are many unknowns when staff changes. We miss those who have left. However, we are eager to meet their replacements, hoping a different perspective will enhance our lives.