I know, from the content of the headline for this journal entry, many of you are assuming that I’m about to do a major bashing of nursing home administrators. Would I ever do such a thing?!? I only bash them when they deserve it (which, sadly, it seems many of them do deserve it early and often). In balance though, 1/3 of this post will actually involve DEFENDING nursing home administrators. But first some much-deserved bashing…
Several years ago, when discussing the numerous lies many nursing home administrators had told me over the years my mother lived in long-term care facilities, a fellow reform activist commented something to the effect, “I think they all must have a book they study that helps them sharpen their skills to lie as fast as they can think!” That would also be my experience as well.
At the very least, my observation is that most administrators seem willing to tell family members, residents and concerned others what they think we want to hear…and then do whatever the heck they choose to do about the situation they’ve been presented with. From what I’ve observed and heard from nursing home staff, administrators and other management types lie to them almost as often as they do to the rest of us. They may do it with a smile. They usually do it while looking you right in the eye. But they lie.
What can be done to change this culture of corporate deception? Confrontation — as scary as it can be to do — is the only hope of turning administrators into honest professionals. Confrontation comes with some very scary consequences, as noted within the CONTROL FREAKS portion of this post. But ignoring the problem of dishonesty wont solve anything and will just enable inappropriate behavior. CLUE: Lying is NOT appropriate and therefore lying is NEVER acceptable.
Guarantee: If you directly confront most nursing home administrators about their deception, sooner or later, they will invite you (gently or under threat to take action with the force of the state) to move your loved one to a different facility. They would rather deny or ignore problems within their own facility than face the possible pain (or financial consequences) of making needed changes. This is so sad!
When those of us with a back bone refused to have our loved one’s civil rights raped and insist on their right to remain where they are AND insist positive changes take place in the facility where our loved ones currently live, we have found administrators taking their status of “control freak” to new lows by attempting to ban us from their facilities! They have been known to attempt to do this to family members, friends and even nursing home Ombudsmen! Of course this kind of banning is almost always ILLEGAL, but it surely is also very stressful.
I found out the hard way about this extremely controlling tactic when my mother lived several years ago at a nursing home in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The administrator’s order to bar me from the property (so I could not visit my own mother!) lasted a little under two hours. One call from me to the Ombudsman lead that person to call Adult Protective Services APS). The APS staff person then read the riot act to both the nursing home owner and administrator! Why did they try to ban me? The letter ordering me off the property (which, again, was ILLEGAL and overturned in LESS than two hours!) stated that I had “created a hostile working environment” where nursing staff were afraid that I would cause them to loose their credentials because of the many times I had reported the facility to the state. The Adult Protective Services work had a precious response to their nonsense, “Tell your staff to suck it up!…If they are doing a good job, they have nothing to fear.”
Nursing home administrators will often show their control freak side to the residents as well, through attempts to (often illegally) micromanage their care. They will often stop at nothing to harass a resident into moving out once the resident presents a threat to their inappropriate control.
This is the part of this journal entry when I will attempt to show compassion to at least some nursing home administrators. Please pay close attention as I don’t do this sort of thing very often!
I have become convinced over the years that at least some percentage (1/3?) of nursing home administrators would NOT lie or act out as control freaks were it not for fear of loosing their job. My observation is that most of the folks who own the large nursing home corporations have far less integrity than most administrators!
Consider the central Indiana nursing home mentioned in a previous NursingHomeReality entry in which I stated that nearly twenty (20) administrators had come and gone from the one facility in barely 10 years! This high rate of turnover is NOT uncommon within the industry. I believe that most administrators are under tremendous pressure and experience a great deal of emotional distress because of the toxic nature of the sociopaths who supervise them!
I would like to believe that in a more ethical, saner corporate environment most administrators would behave far better than they currently do. Yet I’m sure that things wont improve until and unless we (you and me) insist on nursing home industry reform and insist on it taking place NOW!!!