by Patti Moore
Where do you turn for help when your hospice’s health is in question?
Once it begins, the problems can seem to cascade one on top of another. The organization is leaking money, and your market share is atrophying. Your staff is unhappy; anonymous letters of complaint are sent in to your Board of Directors, and your leadership team is splintered and fractionalized, with fingers of blame pointed everywhere but at themselves. A federal audit looms. Patients are being discharged for living too long, while others can’t be admitted because they MIGHT live too long.
Yes, you’re still delivering care, but the burdens on your frontline staff feel onerous, and you’re increasingly seeing the warning signs of burnout. Your staff is saddled with a “new and improved” Electronic Medical Records system that takes five times longer than the old system, with nurses tasked with transcribing unending lists of patients’ medications over and over because the systems don’t interface with each other properly. The on-call team is stretched so thin that your one “traveler” nurse cannot possibly get from one end of your service area to the opposite end when summoned, resulting in angry families and frustrated staff.
If any or all of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Scenarios like these are playing out at hospices all across the US as we struggle to stretch fewer dollars to cover greater need. So – how do you cope and regain some measure of control?
You Stop. Take a breath. Remember and revisit your Mission. Listen. Observe. Discuss. Prioritize. Are the right people in the right seats? Who’s in charge? Formal leaders, or informal leaders? Revisit and restructure your processes and systems. Care. Trust. Be courageous. Streamline, beef up, and demand and accept accountability. Celebrate any victory that comes your way, and keep moving forward. And get some help from outside your organization; to regain your focus on your priorities and cut your way through the thicket of organizational challenges blocking your way.
In my consulting work, helping hospices turn themselves around are challenges I meet on a daily basis. Guiding leadership to recognize their structural issues, helping them to devise and implement solutions that get them back to health, is both my career and my calling. I love what I do; as a former hospice leader who’s still committed to the mission, it’s deeply satisfying to me to help individuals and organizations through these periods of turmoil and to see them thrive.
If you’re a hospice leader whose leadership has devolved into racing around putting out fires, my message to you is, don’t despair. Instead, consider bringing in a fresh set of eyes. A new perspective can inspire innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems and help you to bring your hospice back to health. No, it’s not always easy – but the patients and families to whom your services mean so much are worth it.
Remember what Steve Jobs said:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe to be great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
None of us were called to hospice by accident; we’re here with and for a purpose. Get ahead of your hospice’s health problems, and back to your great work.
If you would like to talk with me about consulting, leadership and/or strategic planning retreats or a keynote speech, contact me here:
Patti Moore receiving the University of Florida College of Nursing 2018 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award