Asking Questions to Create a Climate of Care

Written by Daniel Reingold, President & CEO

David Letterman may have his “Top 10” list but I suggest a “Top Six” list of questions we should ask ourselves as we strive to create a deeper, more meaningful climate of care in our organizations. In speaking with AJAS colleagues around the country, I found that the more questions they asked of themselves and their staff, the more challenged and excited they became, resulting in innovative and creative solutions to care.

Here is the Hebrew Home’s Top Six List. What questions are you asking to create a climate of care?

How do we connect with staff to provide the support and resources they need?

With one out of four women victims of domestic violence, we have a responsibility as employers to provide a safe working environment for our employees. At the Hebrew Home, we developed the “It’s Your Call” program in which a team of staff members is trained in domestic violence prevention and awareness. They have become “lighthouses” for employees to turn to if they are victims of domestic violence.

How do we care for underserved populations?

Our aging population is no longer one size fits all. It is imperative for us to create an environment that welcomes all older adults, regardless of sexual orientation. Our recent partnership with SAGE USA has resulted in New York City’s first LGBT-friendly adult social day program.

How do we respond to the needs of residents?

Residents in our care deserve the same civil rights they would experience living at home. We must never lose sight that intimacy is a civil right. Creating a sexual expression policy ensures a consistent approach among staff, and the encouragement of intimacy and touch, rather than its denial, among consenting residents.

How do we reach a new cohort of people?

Care Management is the ideal concierge service for families who are not able to navigate the complexity of senior healthcare, who don’t have the time, or who live apart and cannot manage care at a distance. With the aging Baby Boomer population, this service will become increasingly important.

How do we maintain a yiddishkeit environment in an assimilated world?

Like many AJAS members, maintaining a kosher facility ensures the highest standards of food and has been a tradition that Jewish and non-Jewish residents, staff and families have embraced.

How do we connect the generations of families in our care?

Sports is a universal connector –your residents may not recall what they had for breakfast, but ask them about seeing Joe DiMaggio at Yankee Stadium and you will hear every last detail. The Hebrew Home opened its Yankees Dugout exhibition last summer featuring Yankees memorabilia. Baseball became a springboard for therapeutics activities for Memory Care residents and throughout our facility. Consider a sport-themed exhibit or activity – you will be amazed at the response!

As we close 2014 and look to 2015, ask yourself questions such as these.  Take inventory of your programs and services and challenge yourself to go beyond the status quo and to reach further, take risks and explore unchartered territory.  Our field may be aging, but our approach should be anything but aged.

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