By Steve Moran
Here is the story title: “Nursing Home Employees Record ‘The End’ Snapchat Video While Vaping Over Dying Hospice Patient.”
First, the title got it wrong, it was actually at an assisted living community in Georgia. But the story was so horrific that on one hand, I knew there was a story that needed to be written but I just couldn’t figure it out for more than a month.
Then, while with the members of the Culture 2100 Human Capital Leadership Group, it came up in conversation and they helped me figure out the angle . . .
A 76-year-old female resident had a stroke and the hospice nurse was called in. It turned out that it was going to be an extended period of time before the nurse would be there and so three care aides, ages 19-21, were asked to go in to be with the resident, providing any care she might need and to monitor her condition until the nurse arrived.
What they did instead was to create a Snapchat video that they titled “The End” -- which did not show the resident, but showed at least one caregiver and included profanities along with obscene hand gestures, and one of the women smoking a vape pen.
The Great Puzzle
When I first saw the story I found myself thinking how could any human being be so evil to do something like this? This is not even human behavior. How could a culture exist where this happens? Except that I came to realize that these things happen more than we can imagine and the reasons are actually really complicated.
Not making any excuses for these young women at all . . . but, they may very well have been scared to death that this resident was going to die and it was their way of coping. And yes, they may simply have been horrible human beings.
And even more amazing and baffling was how they could be so stupid to think making a video and posting it on Snapchat was a good idea.
So It Never Happens in One of Your Communities
Here is what I finally figured out. This story should be told to every single department head and frontline staff with a single message that might surprise you:
“Can you believe what these caregivers did? I am so glad you guys care more than this and
that it would never happen in our community, in our organization.”
It might be tempting to say, “It better never happen here”. However, the reason for my suggestion is that it sends a message of trust that will result in those team members seeing themselves as the opposite of those in the story.
This should happen every single time you run across a story like this. It will protect you, it will protect your residents, it will make your staff like you better. It creates positive reinforcement against a terrible thing.