Joan Devine, Pioneer Network Director of Education
Remember the days when it was only acceptable to have pierced ears – and only one hole in each ear? Or when tattoos had to be totally covered or you could not work in a nursing home? Maybe you’re still not a fan of piercings or tattoos, but in today’s world, most of us have found that we need to change with the times and so we do.
But some changes are harder than others. Consider cell phones. How many of you have policies in your organizations that prohibit direct care staff from using their personal cell phone at work?
Having these policies makes sense. After all, we want staff focused on the residents. But are strict policies prohibiting cell phones really helping to accomplish that outcome? Or are we resisting a change that has become a part of our way of life, that is happening whether we work with it or fight it?
Think about it. How many times have you found yourself in a panic when you discovered that you had left the house without your cell phone? Most of us have embraced the new standard in this world related to how and how often we stay connected – and the cell phone is central to this.
Schools and daycares stay connected with parents using texts, e-mails and even social media. Physicians and health systems also use this medium to share information. Using cell phones as a way to stay connected is a part of life today.
So the question is, why are we spending so much energy trying to get rid of the cell phones – why not put that energy into finding productive and appropriate ways to use them?
After all, in a person-centered culture, we value relationships and encourage connections, so perhaps we need to look at this and challenge ourselves to find a way to embrace change.
For the caregiver who is a single mother, feeling safe and secure at work no doubt includes knowing that she has a “lifeline” to her children’s day care or school. This may actually provide the peace of mind needed to help focus on the residents.
So what can we do? Consider bringing your staff together and exploring options for appropriate use of cell phones by all – staff and leadership (yes, there is a double-standard there, but that’s an entirely separate discussion). Ground the conversation in shared values related to resident care and services and then take the time to explore and understand staff needs.
And as a bonus, think of the engagement that is possible using a cell phone. Sharing pictures, learning and having fun with YouTube or using google to explore together. (My grandkids recently asked a question about the Chicago fire, and we spent about 15 minutes exploring using Google on my phone. It was fun and educational!)
We preach the need for change and person-centeredness to our teams. We tell them that person-centeredness begins with how management treats staff. So maybe looking at cell phones can be a good place to show what that really looks like.