Hazel sat with an upset Deanna in Debra’s office and recounted what had just transpired in the dining room. “I don’t see why Deanna cannot stay in her mother’s room, or why the Novaks’ grandson can’t stay in their unit while they are away.” Debra sat thoughtfully for a moment. “The policy is in place to protect residents. Far too often, family and friends, even when trusted by the resident, can take advantage of the situation. In my former role in another community, we saw family members overstay their welcome, steal belongings…take advantage so to speak. These are forms of elder abuse and do happen. And we are the ones that usually get called upon to mediate such family disputes, which isn’t any of our business. Our role is to manage the building, not family dynamics and conflicts.”
Hazel gave an understanding nod. “I understand that perspective, but let’s face it…the situations you describe are the exceptions. They are certainly not the norm. And because we are the tenants, would we not have a say in the permissions we give to guests, particularly our own family members? We would assume the risks just as we would if we owned a detached home and let our family members stay.” Debra shrugged. “Yes, but we are the building managers, and everyone will assume personal responsibility for their units until…well, an incident occurs and then it’s all over the papers how the housing provider didn’t do enough to protect their occupants.”
Deanna was getting more and more agitated. “Look, it’s obviously a problem for me to be here. I’m not welcome on the inane notion that I’m going to ransack my mother’s suite and steal all her valuables and take off with them in the night.” Debra sighed. “It’s not at all like that, and I do apologize if you feel that way, Deanna. We want you to stay. I know personally what you are dealing with right now. I just need a moment to think on this. I want a solution that will work for everyone and not compromise the safety and privacy of those who live here.” Deanna rolled her eyes as Debra continued. “The issue I have right now is that I don’t have permission from your mother for you to be in her suite, and because of the current situation…that’s not something that’s going to be happening immediately.” Deanna took pause. She could see Debra’s point.
Debra looked out the window for a moment before she returned her gaze to the duo. “As you mentioned Hazel, residents are ultimately responsible for their own suites and belongings. Perhaps if I figured out a procedure for residents to grant permission to guests to stay in their units, with the terms of stay clearly articulated and certain…expectations…outlined, we can work around this. I can’t get permission from Millie at present, but I could get permission from the Novaks.” Hazel smiled. “I’m grateful for your considerations and willingness to explore options Debra. Thank you.” Debra smiled back and turned to Deanna. “Deanna, I want to help take any burden off your shoulders right now. Know that you will be accommodated…one way or another. You have enough to worry about.”
Deanna breathed a sigh of relief. It was nice that she wouldn’t be spending the rest of the day trying to find a hotel room close to the hospital.
At the end of the day, seniors housing providers are in the hospitality business, and customer service is a priority. It is also a person-centred environment, where the needs of residents and families must be taken into consideration.
Circumstances arise where policies and procedures may need to be reviewed. Special considerations may need to be accommodated. In this week’s issue, management’s concern for Debra’s well-being was important enough to look at alternative solutions to the problem.
What do you think of the solution? What would you have done differently?