Blog by: Sylvette Mascioni, Niko Klein, Fernando Moreno-Yanez, Steven Sosa. May 3, 2017
Across the board, we all can say that this training workshop has been a bumpy ride. From the start our external client, Sunrise Senior Living, lacked clarity and communication skills. Somehow, none the less, we were able to supply our client with information, suggestions, and tools that would help their employees perform at a higher standard. When trying to understand what Sunrise wanted us to work on, we were left with “the residents don’t wanna come”. It was very little to work with, but luckily this is why we have needs assessments. The issue we came to agree on was that the care managers at the facility were not trained in leading activities and so they had very little participation from their residents. The needs assessments we used that brought us to our conclusion were direct observations of the activities, specifically exercise, resident interviews, and care manager surveys.
The observations and resident interviews were the most helpful in building a case for proper training for the activities. The observations showed a clear distinction between why residents showed up to activities ran by outside professionals but not the care manager led activities. The resident interviews were also a helpful tool in expressing to the care managers that residents didn’t show up because the activities lacked structure. In contrast to these needs assessments, the surveys we received expressed contentment with the current activities. The surveys also showed the care managers believe that the residents like the activities, when in reality they didn’t enjoy some of them.
Our design for the training was to provide Sunrise with a lesson plan for some activities. The hardest activity to raise attendance for is exercise and so we supplied them with a basic lesson plan to show them what it could look like. We explained that they did not necessarily have to implement this exactly lesson plan, but the structure of the plan would be a great tool for care managers to follow. After supplying them with a sample lesson plan we opened the training up for discussion. This discussion was what worked well for our presentation.
The discussion led to an understanding that the lesson plan would be a good idea. We asked several questions about how they build the activities and at first most said they wing it. We provided the suggestion of further research into easy exercise movements for the residents. It turned out that they had all the resources they needed. Latoya, our main contact for Sunrise, stated that they had all kinds of books on elderly exercise. What they didn’t have were lessons plans for the care managers and so this was our greatest contribution to our client.
The portion of this client workshop we had the most fun with was interacting with the care givers during the presentation. It was very delightful to see them talk about some of the activities they led. In particular, one care manager had started and currently leads a nail painting activities. This care manager was an example of another suggestion we had and that was for care managers to try and start an activity they are passionate about. If they show passion in the activity that they lead then that will make the activity more enjoyable for the residents.
In contrast, this workshop had more than its fair share of challenges. As stated in the beginning, Sunrise did not create a clear objective for us to achieve. The broadness of their issue should have been the first red flag for an even bigger issue. Communication with Latoya was difficult to say the least. Everything from email responses to forgetting about our presentation time, communication was the biggest challenge. As a group we had to act more independently from our client to find a solution to their problem. But as time progressed we learned that Sunrise’s issue was not just low resident attendance at activities, but management issues. We learned from residents and Latoya’s assistance that employees have been quitting and and the turnover rate has started to increase. An issue like this was something far more than what we could handle. Collectively we decided to focus on a specific issue and offer support in any way we could.
Overall, we learned that sometimes the problem at hand is more than just what the organization says is the issue. It is important to analyze the needs assessments you team performs as that is the basis for what needs to be changed. We also learned that although a client asks for your help they may not be the best client to take on. But probably one of the greatest lessons learned is that an issue an organization might have may actually not be to hard to fix. Sometimes it just takes an outsider to shed light on the situation for management to realize the simplicity of the solution they need.