What’s plaguing the NHA?

March 10, 2014
Rayne Stroebel

This Guest Blog comes to us courtesy of Jill Vitale-Aussem.

The three plagues of loneliness, helplessness and boredom cause the bulk of suffering among Elders.  They kill the human spirit.  The Eden Alternative shows us the antidotes to these plagues so we can create an environment where life is worth living.  We all know that, right?

Here’s the thing.  There are three more plagues:  Frustration, aggravation, and exhaustion.  These are the plagues that kill the human spirit of the nursing home administrator who tries to survive the impossible task of managing a nursing home under the institutional model.

Managing an institution is a thankless, miserable job.  From employee turnover to regulatory issues to financial pressures, you start to feel that you are all alone in a battle.  A battle you will never win.  That’s why we have such high rates of turnover and burnout in this work.

Not only do the principles of The Eden Alternative create a better place for elders to live and staff to work, they make the job of a nursing home administrator a career worth having.  Since the time we implemented The Eden Alternative Principles, we’ve had amazing business outcomes in areas that have caused constant frustration for me since I became an Nursing Home Administrator.

In four years’ time, we’ve gone from a community with significant regulatory issues culminating in a notice that we may be placed on the CMS Nursing Home Watch List to a five star community with one survey deficiency in 2014.  Resident and staff satisfaction scores have skyrocketed, our financial performance as compared to budget has had a positive swing of around a million dollars, and nursing staff turnover has gone from over 50% to 30%.  Even our OSHA DART rate has improved from levels that once triggered an OSHA survey to a rate that is now the lowest in our organization.

How did this happen?  Well, imagine being in a meeting with the housekeeping team and having them spontaneously start brainstorming about how to build occupancy.  Or being in a safety committee meeting and having a group of CNA’s say they figured out (on their own) that the recent spike in back injuries was because they weren’t communicating well with each other and that they’ve already addressed the problem.  Or having the best, the most qualified, the most enthusiastic people filling each of your department director positions.  And they’re happy.  And they work together as a team!

This stuff doesn’t happen in an institution.  This is what happens when The Eden Alternative Principles are infused throughout a culture.  People work together to create a thriving, successful community.   And the NHA job is a career worth having.



3 Comments. Leave new

Beautifully said. I hope this gives hope to any NHA who may be feeling a little blue today! Thanks Jill.


For any NHA who is feeling a little blue…read this! http://t.co/NH7tZru9zz


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