By Sherry Neal, RN – BC, CDDN
Welcome to 2017 and to all new HRST newsletter subscribers! It seems just like yesterday that we were all worried that Y2K was going to crash all computer systems and the world would come to a screeching halt! Now 17 years later, computers are smaller, faster and have more capabilities and our world is still intact. Some things haven’t changed in 17 years, though. The tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions seems to persist although it has been proven time and time again that few people keep those well-meaning pledges. In this article, though, I would like to give you 3 New Year’s Resolutions that you can keep.
1. Always advocate for the individuals that you serve.
Whenever we have the opportunity to improve the quality of life or health for an individual, we should advocate. Advocating for someone is just speaking the words that they would say on their own behalf if they had the capabilities. Maybe you know someone who is very physically disabled but is fascinated with bowling. Can you find a way to take that person to bowl? Maybe they just sit on the lane while you throw the ball for them. Maybe just sitting in a bowling alley among all the noise and activity is enough. The important thing is to MAKE IT HAPPEN!
2. Document and report any and all changes in the individuals you serve.
It doesn’t matter if you are the person closest to the individual or the person farthest away from the individual, if you see something, say something! That has become somewhat of a trite phrase, but if you notice something different, no matter how small, PLEASE report that change. You may be saving someone’s life. I served an individual who was a huge coffee drinker and loved his snacks. His direct support professional called me one Sunday evening and said he did not want any coffee or his snack and wanted to go to bed. We took him to ER and he was diagnosed with pneumonia. No fever, no cough, no other symptoms at all- he just didn’t want his coffee and snacks. Had the staff not noticed this small change and felt it warranted notification of someone, he might not have received treatment at the early stage of his disease.
All of us are partners in providing services to individuals and, really, none of us are more important than the other. None of us can do this difficult job alone. I once worked for a company where everyone employed by the company was called a ‘partner’, not an ‘employee’. We need the direct support professionals to provide direct care and improve individuals’ skills by implementation of programs. We need the QDDP to write the programs and keep the agency in compliance with regulatory standards. We need the nurse to educate on health and wellness and identify actual or potential health issues with individuals. We need the executive director to run the business so everyone is paid for the services they provide and to provide for adequate housing, meals and other needs for individuals served. Notice the small things that someone does. Appreciation doesn’t have to include a big bonus or a raise; a simple “Thank You” goes a very long way.
So, after that expensive gym membership goes unused, the size 6 dress still doesn’t fit and the elliptical machine becomes a clothes hanger, please keep in mind these three resolutions above.
They will truly make a difference and require no cash outlay or additional time that no one has enough of already. Little things make all the difference in the world!
“Whenever we have the opportunity to improve the quality of life or health for an individual, we should advocate.”