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3 Tools for the New Director of Nursing’s Toolbox – Part 2

3 Tools for the New Director of Nursing’s Toolbox – Part 2

In Part 1 of this blog series, I talked about how your team communicates with you and how you can set expectations for that communication. In this post, I am going to touch on how you can deal with uncompassionate and abusive employees.

Addressing Adverse Staff

Within my first few months on the job as a new DON, I was stunned to discover that some of the employed staff lacked skills in compassionate care. One of my first encounters was with a staff member who let me know she had been there for 10 years and outlived many previous nurse leaders – she acted like she ran the show and challenged my position as her supervisor. It didn’t take me long to see this employee wasn’t the most caring or compassionate individual. Within a short period of time, I had residents expressing the same view.

Because of the nature of the residents’ concerns, I had to address the situation. This was not the type of employee I wanted caring for my parents. I used this as a gauge throughout my career, if someone’s behavior wasn’t what I expected to see from someone caring for my parents, then they probably shouldn’t be working in my facility. The resident had reported the staff member made her feel rushed and at times was rough because the staff member was in such a hurry, but no one investigated the concern any further until I stepped up as the DON. I acted quickly, investigated the problem, and she was released from employment.

Addressing staff who are negative, unkind, or lack compassion toward residents is a must if you want to lower the likelihood of incidents of abuse and neglect and lower turnover of your high performing staff members. Staff who are reported as abusive cannot be tolerated. This also lets other staff know you won’t tolerate subpar performance.

If you suspect mistreatment of residents by staff, investigate this immediately and follow facility policy on how to conduct and deal with allegations of mistreatment.

During rounds with residents and family, ask about care delivery. Is it meeting their expectations? Ask how they are treated by staff. This will help identify staff who do an excellent job and staff who may need further education on providing care. Encourage residents to share stories about the care they receive. If they are reluctant to share any, ask more detailed questions such as:

  • Do you have a favorite staff member and why?
  • Do you think that staff have the competencies and skillsets needed to provide the care you need?
  • What changes would you like to see in the facility?

Now that you have the second tool in your toolbox, think about if there are any difficult staff members on your team. Pay attention to what residents and family members are saying about your staff. By addressing these issues quickly, you can avoid more problems later.

In our next blog post, I’ll cover the final tool—building high functioning teams.

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