This isn’t news to me, or to most aides I suspect.
We see it. We experience it. We hear all about it.
WHAT? The PANIC mode our DON and Administrators go into when it’s THAT time of the year. The biggest pony show is often put onto the stage during these times.
THE ANNUAL SURVEY.
Weeks before they expect the inspections, the leaders go crazy. Everything is painted and cleaned and polished to a high voltage shine.
Suddenly the food is much better- it’s hot when it’s supposed to be, or cold when it should be. More food is served; it looks better and smells better and….YES….it even tastes better. The nice table linens come out. The dishes are apt to be prettier. The cook is suddenly more responsive to resident requests for an alternative. The servers show some respect once again. And the aides HEAR about IT when they’re not in the dining rooms right exactly on (cue) time. The dietitians suddenly show up more at meals and actually taste the food, check it’s temp and go through the motions they’re supposed to have been doing all along.
The DON changes too at this time of the year. She or he goes on a witch hunt, scouring through employee records to see who needs to be updated for in services and background checks and all that. She might realize the nursing home hasn’t offered enough education hours so we the aides are forced to attend stupid movie in services by the half dozen for several weeks. Then we’re coached as to what to say IF the dreaded SURVEYORS ask us questions. An innocent and idealistic aide might ask why she can’t just tell them the truth? Lo and beho, the SIN this person just committed. The DON goes further into herself imposed bitchdom with the resident care plans. And the nurses are the next target of the scorn and attacks. Care plans are re-written; aides and nurses and others are asked, no TOLD, to re-sign endless pages of flow sheets and similar stuff.
The residents get the most out of SURVEY EXPECTATION ANXIETY TIME. They get brand new towels and sheets and linens. They have new toothbrushes with their names on them…and shampoo and soap and creams and lotions. Things they haven’t always had all year long. Their rooms are suddenly really well cleaned- rugs are washed, walls are re painted, much needed repairs are done. Windows might even get screens placed in them; AND, the bathrooms! The toilets are fixed so they stop clogging up; the showers magically spray hot water again. And residents have an endless supply of needed items like briefs and wipes and the likes. The scents of the home are just wonderful too, at this time of the year. Air fresheners and flowers and the smell of baking food is abundant in every nook, corner and crevice.
THE BEST PART of THAT time of the year is the increase in STAFFING. Yes. Everyone benefits now. Not only are there enough aides scheduled, often we have too many. SO many that a couple might be sent home or better yet- put to work doing special things like restorative nursing stuff, or activities. The nursing home appears to be a well oiled, well run shop. Enough staff; good food, excellent building and yards; a great activity program…and perfect care plans with well written goals and all signed off by the right people, at the right time, for the right residents.
Too bad this isn’t how it works ALL THE TIME.
Now go this article. And consider my rant above. It’s all relative and yes, some nursing homes are NOT like this (or shall we say, some nursing home management teams) BUT many are. Hide the truth when IT’S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR. Cover up those things that are cosmetic and can be altered for a few days. And forget about the rest of the year.