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Safety Matters


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

How to transform attitudes

240 staff, 136 residents, several cats, quite a few birds, and a visiting dog program come together to make up the rich and vibrant community of R. K. MacDonald Nursing Home, fondly known as the RK. 

So what’s the biggest safety challenge in this large home that recognizes and appreciates the uniqueness of every person who lives and works there? Essentially, it’s a math challenge!

1. How many residents are in your facility? 
2. How many residents in your facility use a mechanical lift (ceiling/hoyer)?
3. Multiply the answer from question #2 by 4 (assumes 4 lifts per day). 
4. Multiply the answer from question #3 by 7 (days per week).
5. Multiply the answer from question #4 by 52 (weeks per year). 

The answer from question #5 is how many estimated lifts are happening with your staff every year. 

At a recent Keeping PACE symposium, Terry MacIntyre, the RK’s Director of Clinical Services, challenged the audience to try the math at their respective homes, because what the math told the RK was that over 150,000 lifts are happening annually. 

Terry challenged others to think about these numbers differently: How do “routines” affect our behavior? Which resident gets their care done first? How do we support good, caring people to slow down? 

The answer is not easy, and takes commitment, creativity, and, above all, leadership. These were the supports the RK relied on to transform their processes to address the safety attitude, and ensure it was prioritized. In conjunction, the following changes/programs were put in place: 

• Stepping out
• SAFER leadership
• Kardex Care Plan
• Huddle Sheets
• Resident Observation Records
• Role clarity
• Safety is a standing agenda items at committees and staff meetings 

Terry answered some of frequently asked questions for us, and for anyone else interested in the work the RK did.

Q: What was it like before you began to initiate this change? 
A: There was an absence of follow up to incidents reports, a blame culture and a lack of trust 

Q: When did you start the journey to change at the facilities? 
A: As soon as we all committed to role modeling our core values 

Q: What drew you to making safety a priority? 
A: It adds to the “quality of work life” – more rewarding –we need every one of our staff!

Q: Who is impacted by the changes your undertaking? 
A: Senior Leaders, residents and their families, staff because of the support they are experiencing (listen to them) and WCB

Q: Why do you believe this work is important? 
A: I value my staff – this resonates with my personal values and beliefs that relationships and people are important to me. A safe workplace is a fun workplace = good staff retention

Q: Why do you think you’ve been successful in moving change forward?
A: SAFER Leadership and our Core Values. We still struggle with accountability in terms of setting SMART goals – when we fall short of achieving a goal, we need to support each other … there’s a lot of trust yet to build

Q: What do you attribute your success to?
A: True colors. I am blue, green and gold, a consensus builder, value relationships, love to acknowledge success and grow staff and I have a heart. Sometimes staff needs an ear, not a mouth 

Q: What’s the next safety project on the horizon? 
A: Get a better grip on addressing unmet needs of our residents through investigating our incidents and developing a behavior response team + external resources + accreditation standards 

Now are you inspired to do the “math challenge?” 

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