Maintaining Quality Care
The secret to success in this business, over the long term, is maintaining the quality of care provided to residents. We have now been open for a year, and as our residents’ needs have fluctuated, we feel strongly that we have maintained the same quality of care as we did when our first resident moved in one year ago! You may be thinking, “That’s easy to say, but how do you know?” We know because our residents and their families continue to be happy with what we are doing, how their loved ones are being cared for, and I believe they will all say that we deliver what we promise. Michala and I are there every day to ensure that what we have promised is, indeed, delivered.
I’d like to think there are really four primary areas of focus that keep us on top of our game. Michala and I often sit down to make decisions and we always ask ourselves……”what is the right thing to do here?” The right thing encompasses so many aspects of our business, these four areas have become the foundation on which we base our decisions. These areas are specifically:
- our caregivers
- Michala and my direct contact with our residents and their families
- keeping promises and living up to expectations
- building trusting relationships with residents, staff, families and outside resources.
Our staff is our greatest asset. They set the standard for everything we do and we look for people who have something a little bit different to offer than the basic set of skills for a CMA or CNA. It’s not easy to make it as a Prairie Elder Homes resident caregiver. We insist on a high level of positive interactions between our staff and our residents. The expectation is that we don’t just move from person to person applying needed care. Instead, we engage with our residents while we care for them, letting them know and feel that this is where they belong. We work to create a life worth living through engaging residents in the daily household routines. Although we ask a lot from our staff, they are the kind of people who know they will get even more in return by providing the kind of care that our residents deserve.
Many of our prospective residents come to us from other larger facilities. Usually, families are either unhappy with some aspect of what is happening at the facility, or the facility has indicated that a different setting might be more appropriate. The most common complaint that we hear is that it is hard to find someone who can answer questions about the well-being of a loved one. In our homes, not only are our caregivers in tune with what is happening with our residents, but Michala and I work to have daily direct contact with our residents. Our family members have our direct contact information and we make it a priority to work together to solve problems and to implement care plans that not only work for our residents, but meet the needs of family members as well. A few weeks ago, Michala had contacted the son of one of our residents who lives out of town. His mom had experienced a significant decline and he was eager to get the most up to date information on her condition. During the phone call, Michala compassionately and comprehensively conveyed the information. At the end of the call she said “I know this is a difficult time, and it is even harder being so far away. This is my cell phone and I want you to know that you can call me anytime you want an update on your mom”. Michala is our RN! This is the type of direct contact that makes Prairie Elder Homes different from any setting available.
Doing what is right, is usually not the same as doing what is easy. We can attest to the fact that owning a residential memory care home is never easy. However, I believe that in looking back on the last year, Michala and I feel confident that we have done what presented as the right thing to do at every decision making point. We have even been tempted to go with the easy route……but when it came down to families, caregiving and residents, we couldn’t do it. The right thing has always won, and that is how we live up to expectations. We tell families from our first meeting that we are not perfect and that we will make mistakes. But we do promise them that we will do everything we can to ensure the best quality of life possible for our residents. We have invested everything in this business. Following through and living up to expectations is our only option.
And finally, as with so many aspects of our lives, the quality of what we do is only as good as the quality of the relationships we build along the way. We work to be genuine and caring as we build relationships with those who are impacted by our work. Transparency is also one of our goals. We operate from the premise that we have nothing to hide as we go through our day to day work. This is why we so often win the hearts of the other agencies who work with us, such as hospice staff and home health staff. They can see from the beginning that what we do is genuine. And we do it 24 hours a day 7 days a week, holidays included. In this work, we go into it knowing that each of our residents will leave us when their time comes. What never leaves us are the relationships we have built with their loved ones, and the memories that we created with those residents. In our first year, we have lost four of our first eight residents. When I think of each one, I smile and easily draw upon a memory that warms my heart. My hope is that their loved ones have these memories from their time with us as well.
These are the ways that we know we have been successful in maintaining the outstanding quality of our care. Throughout the journey there a moments that fill our cups and moments that drain them to the very bottom. In this first year, we have created a community that works together to keep our cups full and sharing the knowledge that when one of us has a cup running a little low, there are so many wonderful moments and memories to draw upon, although it may take time, we will all get back to full.