I’m a blogger with two audiences. Most of you read because you have an elderly parent or loved one, and you’re grappling with a particular issue. The rest of you read because you work in the senior care field.
This post is for professionals. It’s my opportunity to share some unsolicited advice, not because I relish doing so, but because it’s needed. I’ve seen the need staring at me and others over the course of 20 years in the senior care field.
As my minister father used to say from the pulpit: “I’m preaching this sermon as much for me as for you.” My three-point sermon is directed at you, me, and all of us working with seniors and their families.
1. Be nice. Your clients may be crabby, unreasonable and once in awhile, outright mean. But we need to remember that they are the customer. We are not. And they may be facing one of the biggest challenges of their lives with an issue–or multiple issues–relating to their aging parent.
Because of that stress, they may doff their usual persona and become Mother Bear or the Drill Sergeant. We, on the other hand, need to act like grownups, even when we’re peopled out by the end of the day. Remember the old television show, Candid Camera? And the surprising line, “Smile, you’re on candid camera?” Corny but true, a smile will do wonders for our customers, especially those who are hurting.
2. Speak the truth in love. Actually, those words are found in the Bible. Sometimes it’s easy for us to withhold information which is needed but is hard to swallow. For example, in my line of work, I deal with children who think their parent will live in a spacious private room in a modern adult family home on Medicaid. But that’s not the case. I need to empathize with their disappointment at the disparity between their ideal and reality. Another truth: If we don’t have enough information to explain the “why’s” of a particular situation, we need to educate ourselves or find someone more knowledgeable.
3. Say ‘Yes’ more than you say, ‘No.’ Sometimes “No” may be technically the right answer, but rephrasing the statement to emphasize the positive works better. Telling a resident, “No, you can’t leave the community by yourself,” may be true. But saying something like, “This is a good place for you to become healthier and stronger. We want you to stay for that reason,” may work better.