Throughout her career, Annette Greely, MS, HSE, the president and CEO of Jones-Harrison, has looked at long-term care facilities that were doing well on paper and said, “That’s not good enough. They should be smiling and laughing.” So she asked the important questions, talked to the right people, and used a little elbow grease to make things right.
The “mediocre middle” of good surveys but less-than-enthusiastic team members and residents was never going to cut it for Greely at her previous stops. And it won’t cut it at Jones-Harrison either.
“You’re a problem solver,” said Peter Murphy Lewis to Greely during their interview on LTC Heroes, a podcast about leadership in long-term care. She laughed at the remark and explained that being a “fixer” was never her goal, but then Greely gave listeners her tips for maintaining a facility that prioritizes resident and nurse satisfaction:
The key, she explains, is to build a culture upon the pillars of humility, transparency, and curiosity:
Humility: A self-described “servant-leader,” Greely is never too proud to set an example for the kind of work ethic required to give our beloved seniors the care they deserve. “I have no problem with fixing toilets, vacuuming, or doing anything else that needs to be done,” she said. “If I can help the staff do its job, I will.” This attitude can be traced to Greely’s roots. “I grew up on a farm, kind of blue-collar,” she recalled. “As a child, I learned that everyone should be treated equally, and the janitor who works for the school or for people is actually the most important person.” She has found that these values have helped her improve the quality of care provided at Jones-Harrison. “When I take care of the aides and the housekeepers, they, in turn, will take care of the residents,” she said.
Transparency: In order to ensure that the nurses and other staff members are on the same page, Greely keeps them in the loop as to “the whys” of her operation. “I respect my team so much that I want to give them the real reasons behind the decisions we make,” she said. One example was the move from paperless to electronic health records (EHRs). Greely, like other administrators, encountered resistance initially, as it can be a rather arduous transition. So she involved her staff in the process from the beginning and explained to them the “why,” that documenting on paper creates double the work, which means less time is being spent with residents. “You have people using paper, and it’s causing them to feel overwhelmed, and it’s causing them to work overtime,” she recalled telling them. Further, she shared her research into other facilities and their implementation of EHRs to make her team fully informed of the entire process.
Curiosity: An important trait of every leader is the desire to continue to learn from and listen to your team. Greely mentioned on the podcast that she often becomes a quiet observer. Other times, she will reach out to her team for suggestions. “I’ll formulate ideas and thoughts, then take that back to my team and bounce it off them,” she said. “They might say, ‘I think you’re missing this piece of information,’ and I’m okay with that, because, as leaders, we need to be able to take in that information and utilize it.” The president of Jones-Harrison will also call upon her mentors, written resources, and state leadership programs to learn how to better serve the seniors under her care.
The three pillars of humility, transparency, and curiosity have helped Greely and her team go above and beyond merely acceptable standards and elevate Jones-Harrison to new heights. “The ultimate goal is providing the best possible care for the resident, and that means creating efficiencies for the staff so that we can spend more time with the residents,” she said. Her experience and dedication have created an environment at Jones-Harrison that is not only in compliance with federal regulations but also filled with happy, smiling people. And Greely wouldn’t have it any other way.
Written by Cameron Zargar