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A New Initiative to Help Make Senior Living Staff Feel Appreciated and ‘Put Down Their Baggage’

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By Pam McDonald

Senior Housing Forum Publisher Steve Moran sat down recently for a conversation with Kimberly Green, the Chief Operating Officer for Diakonos Group, which offers the full spectrum of long-term care through 22 Oklahoma communities. She describes a new initiative she started this year and calls “The Fun Committee”.

“The Fun Committee is all about staff,” she explains. “It’s entirely about making the staff happy, making them feel loved, making them feel appreciated. Each community has its own Fun Committee and we have a Fun Board that meets every six weeks. We decide on one big activity a month to do at the facility level,” she says.

It’s All About Making the Staff Feel Appreciated

As an example, she notes that the Board elected to do a Fall Festival. She says, “Communities, as part of their Festivals, can have bon fires, parties, whatever they vote to do.

They also determine numerous things they’ll do on own weekly. “So they might have dress up days, or those kinds of things, they might have potlucks, but it’s all done by the Fun Committee that everybody knows is based just for them.”

Involving All Shifts

Kimberly notes that in the past staff that worked the night shifts or weekends were often left out. She says, “We have a plan on how we are going to incorporate every single shift.”

For their upcoming patriotic carnival, they’ll fill the freezers with different kinds of ice cream and have an assortment of red, white and blue toppings. She says they’ll hang a huge sign saying, “We love you; you’re appreciated” for the staff that couldn’t attend.

It Starts with Building Trust

Kimberly describes how their biggest building, which has 100,000 square feet and is one of their newest acquisitions, sent only one person to the Board when they really need 5 or 6. Mary, their sole Fun Committee member, says she held a watermelon eating contest and no one showed up.

Kimberly asks if she took that watermelon around, passed it out on plates and said, “This if from the Fun Committee and I hope you have a great day.” Mary said she had and Kimberly recommended she post a new signup sheet for the committee. She did and the community now has several people on its Fun Committee.

Help Staff Put Down Their Baggage

Kimberly explains that getting things rolling can take time. She says, “Because you’re starting with people that feel like you don’t care and it’s all about the dollar for you. Whether that’s what you stood for or not that may be what was in their other jobs. So they’re coming to you with baggage. You have to help them put down that baggage and trust you.

“Everybody has these Fun Committees,” Kimberly continues, “and activities in their buildings. But very few companies have something that is just for staff on a consistent every day, weekly, or monthly basis.”

To watch the video, please click the link below:

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 transition care. The company also operates a hospice and a pharmacy.

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