As the executive director of an 80-bed assisted living and memory care community, my job is to maintain cohesiveness, safety and success between corporate, staff, residents, visitors and vendors. How? Following are five tips on how to achieve success in this profession:
Atmosphere – Just as the mother sets the tone of the home, the executive director sets the tone of the community. Because of this, the staff should be caught laughing and smiling throughout the day, along with creating a positive environment through validation, genuine care and concern, plus a listening ear and a compassionate heart.
Abide by the Rules – Assisted living communities are medically licensed facilities first. There is a reason for every rule and regulation: to reduce risk and keep the residents, staff and visitors as safe as possible. Compliance is a daily task. One of the most important pieces of compliance is to document everything daily, from nurse’s notes to executive director’s notes to C.N.A.’s flow charts to dietary consumption. Documentation reduces suspicion.
Be transparent – Because incidences happen, communication and honesty are vital. The staff must communicate with families. Honest communication (about both the good and the bad) builds trust. Trust establishes the bond that becomes the key to a successful assisted living experience.
Urgency – Without a census, there would not be any residents. Thus, an assisted living community is only as successful as its census. If a community reflects the highest quality of care, word spreads and the census rises. If a community is in poor shape, word also spreads and the census falls. Because of this fact, there is a daily urgency to make sure all aspects of a flourishing assisted living are fulfilled.
Teamwork – Because the unexpected is the expected in this profession, the staff must work as an enthusiastic team to constantly and rapidly solve every problem that arises. Because the staff is so overworked and underpaid, every effort should be made to show appreciation. To listen and provide resources is to create a team that bands together in mutual cooperation.
Being an executive director consumes time, energy, emotion, thoughts and opinions. Only one thing makes this profession all worth it: the daily experience of making a difference in each resident’s life and experiencing the bond that comes from an anxious concern for the well-being of another person.