25000 Country Club Blvd. Suite 255, North Olmsted, OH 44070

Leading from Within

June 15, 2020
Lewis Center, Ohio - This week was my first full week back at a building as an Administrator. I started with Foundations back in 2002 and had been an Administrator at several buildings, moved into the role of Acquisition Coordinator and currently I'm Vice President of Culture. I am a strong believer in Corporate Culture. It's the heart and soul of an organization and I believe the most important factor in a company's success.  

I have to admit, I was a little nervous. I hadn't run a building for quite some time. Do I still have what it takes? Could I still be successful at leading a building? Our owner, Brian Colleran, said "Bob, you don't have anything to prove."

I told him, "I do to myself."

Several years ago, I went to the classes to become a State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA). Ever since then, the highlight of my week was spending a couple of days a week in different Foundations buildings working alongside our very best STNAs and frontline staff. That experience changed me. It brought back the joy I had went I first got into the long-term care business. It gave me once again a connection with our frontline staff that I lost ever since I stopped being an administrator in a building every day. I began to blog about this journey and the incredible team members I met and worked with along the way. It allowed me to experience our Culture of Care first hand and to make sure it was alive and well. 

Once I had been through all sixty-some facilities throughout the state and worked alongside the best STNA each facility had, we held our very first STNA Summit in Columbus. At this Summit, we gather all the STNAss that I had worked with together in one place and had various people come from the corporate office and listen to the STNA's on ways to improve Foundations. The Summit was a HUGE success and we walked away from it a better company for listening and making changes.

Since COVID-19, we have restricted personnel traveling building to building. I lost that hands-on day to day experience in the buildings and I missed it. The opportunity presented itself to run a building again. I jumped at the opportunity.  

I soon found out that I had nothing to worry about. The basics never change. Love your team, Love your residents. Be firm but fair. Lead by example. Be out on the floor. Don't ask anyone to do something you aren't willing to do yourself. Make a difference.

Now the reports and the information that you are required to gather are a different story. That all has changed, but that's the easy stuff to relearn. I got on the phone and called a few of your experience and successful administrators and they walked me through it.  

This past week reminded me that what really matters happens in our buildings. The culture, the care, and the compassion. Those face to face interactions with our care team members and residents. The phone calls from family members concerned about their mom or dad. The call off's that need filled. The transportation company that was late and the doctor won't see them. You don't get that when you're not in a building.  

What would happen as a company if we asked everyone who possibly could work in a building, to work in a building? What would happen as a company if we got rid of our corporate office and had everyone work from a building?  

I think the answer would be that our Culture of Care would truly take root throughout the entire organization. I think we would be more understanding when an administrator doesn't get right back to us with a response when we see them dealing with a resident concern, answering a call light, trying to get a call off filled, calling a transportation company because they were late to pick up a resident for an appointment, and on and on.

When you're not in a building you lose touch of our people and our purpose. You lose touch of the impact a new policy has on our culture because of the time it takes away from the personal interactions with our staff, our residents, and their families.

If our Corporate team were back in a facility, I believe they would soon find out that the joy of long-term care is with the interactions with the residents and staff. That all the reporting that we are asking the Administrators and Directors of Nursing and other departments may be important - but not more important than helping with the resident and encouraging our staff.

My job is to guard against our Culture of Care becoming just a nice phrase. A catchy slogan. Void of true meaning. We must purposely and sacrificially live it. There's a reason our Core Values were written not by our Corporate Team but by our Facility Administrators.

"A good leader leads their people from above them.

A great leader leads their people from within them."

M.D. Arnold

Bob Speelman, STNA

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