Establishing a routine, ongoing mechanism for learning and communication serves many purposes in all long-term care environments, including assisted living. Such a program addresses many of the desires employees have indicated are important in the workplace for decades, and at the same time ensures regulatory compliance.
Value, Respect and Appreciation
Employees indicate a desire for more respect and appreciation, and to be valued as a member of the organization. Routine meetings, whether educational in nature or a time to simply communicate, demonstrates that they are valued participants. Providing opportunities for education and involvement provides a more stimulating and motivating environment in which to work, and research demonstrates that it enhances satisfaction and retention.
Ensure Employees are Equipped and Competent
Ongoing sessions provide an opportunity to ensure that staff is not only equipped initially, but enables staff to continue to learn and grow. New diagnoses, medications, and behavioral strategies continue to challenge staff and this creates an opportunity to continue to learn skills, discuss issues, evaluate processes or procedures and create more effective plans. Sessions offer a chance to learn, communicate, update, and share information. Providing a forum where employees can share information they may know about a resident with other staff benefits everyone.
Relationship Building In and Among Departments
Listening, sharing and learning from one another is rewarding to all who participate. It cements staff relationships and encourages teamwork. Employees get to know one another and will understand the role and difficulties of colleagues in other departments as they share their own experiences and perspectives. Gathering all staff together encourages interdepartmental collaboration, as they “walk in one another’s shoes” when they seek to solve problems and plan new initiatives together.
Increased Ownership and Organizational Participation
Staff want to be heard, to have a voice in the organization and be involved in discussions about the people they care for and ways in which they conduct their work. Participating in organizational plans and decisions is important to them. They want to know the “what” and they want to know “why,” all of which enable them to do their job better. They want to feel part of an organization. Educated and empowered employees can be more decisive as they know the overall organizational vision and have been taught expectations for performance. Once prepared, they can act confidently to bring about the best care and provide for individual resident needs given the ability to make decisions in a particular situation.
Routine, ongoing education and communication sessions open to all staff employed in an organization enhance the ability to meet the needs of residents and families, and elevates their contributions as a colleague and team member. It facilitates a sense of “we are all in this together” to serve, no matter what it takes. The expectation is that we all join together to meet the organizational goals and realize the vision.