We’ve all been assigned to cranky, demanding rude residents/patients. You know them: Mean, belittling people who have elevated themselves above all others in level of need. Not just pillow fluffers, these residents demand strict attention to minute details not because the attention is necessary but because the resident believes they are entitled to it. Resident families can be just as hard to work with. I’m not sure who is worse: The demanding resident or the demanding family member. Regardless, here are 7 tips on working effectively with the Mrs. Cranky’s of the world:
1) CHECK IN
Check on the demanding resident 1st thing: Once you know you’re assigned to Mrs. Cranky, go to her room and check with her right away. Let her know you’re her aide.
2) DISCUSS PLANS and ADJUST WORK FLOW
Ask her if she has any special requests for today: Perhaps she wants her bath later in the morning; or she isn’t feeling well and would like to skip breakfast. Or maybe she has guests coming and would like to wear the hard-to-don red dress. By asking her what her plans are for the day, you are giving her a real say in how her day will go. Based upon her feedback, schedule your workflow to accommodate Mrs. Cranky’s needs. This does not mean you neglect your other residents.
3) SHARE YOUR WORKFLOW PLAN
It is perfectly acceptable to let Mrs. Cranky know that your other assigned residents have the same needs as she does. Make it clear that you are responsible to others and that you cannot cut back on time they need. You can say all this in a polite, professional and caring manner. Even further, I would let Mrs. Cranky know the order in which you will tend to her care. Give APPROXIMATE time frames. By doing this, you are alerting her that you hold your other residents’ needs just as high as hers.
4) ANTICIPATE NEEDS
Unless she is your first resident, check in with Mrs. Cranky every so often. Anticipate her needs. Use your knowledge of her demands as a tool: If you know she usually rings the bell at 10am for bathroom use, be one step ahead of her and show up in her room at 9:55am to see if she needs the toilet…
When performing actual cares for Mrs. Cranky, listen to her if she speaks. If she is rude or insulting you, let her know that this offends you! Tell her that her words hurt your feelings. By doing this, you put her on notice that you won’t stand for rude remarks and the like. Try to find some common interests to talk about- this shows her that you do have a genuine interest in her. Ask her about pictures she has; ask her where she has traveled in her life; ask her questions about HER LIFE in an effort to show your curiosity. If she answers your questions positively, GOOD! Keep aiming for this positive energy. If she continues to gripe and complain, remain quiet. Don’t ignore her, but ignore the negativity and by doing so you are not giving her audience.
6) ASK POINTED QUESTIONS
If Mrs. Cranky seems upset or angry, while doing her care, ask her if something is bothering or upsetting her. Sometimes people are uptight or nervous about things and take it out on the nearest person. If she expresses sadness let her know she can speak with you about those things and offer to pass on her concerns to others as needed. Let her know she can trust you. If she is angry at her family, offer to speak with the nurse to see about a family meeting. If she is mad at other staff, listen but don’t give any feedback. Give her attention for her positive words and say little about her negative words.
7) FOLLOW UP! OFTEN!
During the shift, after her care is completed, check in with Mrs. Cranky. Again, ANTICIPATE her needs! When you take a break, let her know. By doing this you are letting her know you care about her. At the end of the day, if appropriate, check in with Mrs. Cranky one last time. Ask her if she needs anything. Ask her how she thinks her day went- and what could be done to make it better. When we ask people to help us with planning schedules and work flows, it’s amazing how much feedback we get! It’s always appropriate to say goodbye and other polite remarks.