Wow. Thats really all I can say as I think back over the last month in my new role at Mt Olivet Rolling Acres. So much has happened and no 2 days were the same. I have learned a ton and am just beginning to realize how much I really have to learn. It energizing and exhausting at the same time.
The best way I can describe the time has been interesting* with a building appreciation for how many different hats you have to wear in a nonprofit leadership role. It’s really fun and makes for great stories at the dinner table!
A few examples:
~ We have a bear. Yep. A bear. We have some property that was gifted to us 15+ years ago that we use as a summer cabin experience for our residents and veterans. Late last week we found bear sign (i.e.: poop) and the garbage torn apart. It happened again the next day. What to do? 1st call the DNR and then my husband who was an avid bear hunter to figure out a plan of action. Turns out this is a pretty big issue and we have to put protocol in place for food, garbage and bleach the outside of any outdoor trash containers. Who knew?! Talk about commuting with nature….
~ Sign your name on the dotted line. I think I have signed my name over 1,000 times in the last month. Not only for all our licensing, but for each of our homes, and bank accounts for clients. Turns out, as vulnerable adults they need a co-signer. Guess who that is?! Plus, for the auditors, I need to sign each and every receipt that comes through accounts payable on a monthly basis. Get the coffee and start signing!
~ Behaviors. I’m learning new language around people centered care and behaviors and I LOVE it! Instead of talking about someone as “X did this”, “Y said that” we speak in behaviors and then try to figure out what could be the cause of the behavior and address that root cause. So instead you hear “we are having an elevated behavior day” “we have some behaviors that we need to redirect”. And, the redirection techniques are really creative; paper shredding, rocking, quiet time, bean bag chairs, etc. I mean really, who DOESN’T want to just shred paper when you get angry?! It is a release and it does help.
~ Mandatory Reporting. Since we are working with vulnerable adults we are all mandatory reporters. This means that we need to notify the county if we think there is any maltreatment of our clients either financial, emotional or physical by our staff, their guardians, outside caregivers, peers…anyone. Anyone can report at any time and we then need to open an investigation and have our investigation team mobilized. The bad news, its part of our reality. The good news, our team is SO responsive and moves very quickly to figure out whats going on to keep our clients safe.
~ Incident Reporting. In addition to the above, we need to make sure we have a safe environment for all clients, this means that I get daily incident reports when people bump their elbow, scrape their knee or get into a disagreement with a roommate. The staff describes the incident, the resolution and plans to prevent in the future. My favorite last week had to do with a long horn plastic cow, roommates and personal space. Everyone is ok but the way the team described the incident gave me a really strong visualization of what happened given the level of detail and how many times the term “long horn plastic cow” was used.
~ Visitors. My office truly embraces the open door policy. I have had numerous guardian/parent visits; even a visit from a former MORA president! These have been so great. They want to connect, share what they love about MORA and have an open ear to the suggestions for improvement. MANY of these are long time guardians so they also come with great stories and history of the organization. It’s a real privilege to be a part of an organization that has meant so much to so many families for such a long time. My favorite story, which has now been related by 3 different sets of parents, is what used to happen when the parents came to “baby sit” so that the caregivers could go out for a dinner together or have a holiday celebration. Let’s just say … it was a great idea in theory but the actuality of it was challenging. The saying “when the cats away, the mice will play” comes to mind.
~ Operations. I had my 1st board meeting last night and it went well! We discussed current challenges (staffing) and reviewed the financials through the end of the year. The team has worked so hard to be transparent, predictable, responsive and proactive and …it’s starting to show in our operations. Our forecasts are within 1% of actual, the board is confident in our decisions and they really want to help us thrive. This work started LONG before I arrived, I was just lucky enough to hear/share the messages with the board. I am so proud of our team!
~ Picnics! ‘Tis the season for summer picnics and our staff and clients love them. Last week we had a neighborhood picnic at one of our homes, it was really nice to meet all the caregivers and residents along with their families. This week we have a picnic out at our campus location (pray for good weather on Sunday) and next Wednesday is the annual staff/resident softball game/picnic. (Although this year instead of softball it’ll be yard games and fried chicken). It’s so heartening to see the staff and clients celebrate and have fun together. Care giving is hard physical work without much daily recognition. These are chances to celebrate the relationships the caregivers have created with the residents.
~ My Peers. I have an amazing group of peers that lead similar organizations (LivingWell, Hammer, LifeWorks, Opportunity Partners, Fraser, LSS). They have welcomed me with open arms, made time for all my questions, shared their experiences and ideas and are sending me information that will help me onboard more quickly. Its nice to know that I have a “tribe” that I can turn to as we head into conference season and as/when we see changes with legislation and medicare. They truly have each others backs and I can’t wait to become a valued partner!
Finally, my team. Every day I am impressed with their level of care, attention to detail, knowledge of regulations/licensing, responsiveness to issues, willingness to try new things with a new leader and basically bring me along their journeys. Its hard and risky to onboard a new leader and they are doing it with grace, honesty and positivity.
I am humbled.
*not in the Minnesota passive aggressive definition of “interesting”