By Pam McDonald
Kimberly Green is the Chief Operating Officer for Diakonos Group, which has 22 communities in Oklahoma and offers the full continuum of care. To provide the varying levels of resident care, they employ quite a few certified nursing assistants (CNAs).
Kimberly has heard that many feel disposable in the industry. She says, “We wanted to figure out how we could love on them to make them feel that this is their career and that we’re invested in them.”
Sending CNAs to Convention: An Investment in Them
Kimberly notes that Diakonos’ leadership attends a variety of conventions each year. She says, “We come to convention. We network, we feel special, we get to stay in a hotel, see friends, go to dinners and learn things we wouldn’t learn through continuing ed in town.”
So the company decided to send a minimum of 2 CNAs per building to convention every year and partnered with the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA). “We started small,” she says, “with 1, then 2, then 6, then12 and it’s just grown.”
All-Inclusive Educational/Networking Opportunity
“We raise the money as a company and they get to be a part of that. We pay for all their transportation, we pay for their hotel, and we pay for every CNAs’ NACHA membership for the year. We make sure that we take them shopping to buy them clothes, shoes, purses and give them spending money because you go to convention and you want to look your best.”
Kimberly explains that many CNAs don’t have the clothes to feel comfortable at a convention, so the first year they sent people who didn’t go to the formal dance or out when everyone else went into town. She says, “One attendee had no money, not one penny, to eat on. Now we give them spending money and everything they need to come and have a good time . . . and feel part of it.”
Mentoring CNAs So They Want to Stay with Their Company
Steve wonders if attending a national convention is a once in a lifetime experience for the CNAs chosen. Kimberly responds, “Sometimes it is . . . given that turnover in our industry is about 100%. What we hope is that with NACHA we’re mentoring, and that people want to stay.” That’s Diakonos’ goal.
Not everyone can attend convention, those who do have to put some effort in, Kimberly explains. They have to complete all of NAHCA’s classes for the year, and be recommended by their administrator and director of nursing (DON). She says, “If there are multiple people who want to go, some buildings do an essay, some do votes by all the staff. Each building has its own way of deciding who goes, and it tends to be all new people."
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Diakonos Group has 22 communities in Oklahoma and offers the full continuum of care, including intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF/IID), independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing long-term care, and post-acute transitional care. The company also operates a hospice and a pharmacy.