‘Gratitude Coupons’ would motivate staff
Caring Times, July/August 2014
After weeks at home, with two lumbar surgeries on the same disc, I spent three weeks at a “care” facility, where (in my opinion, and that of my wife), I was medically neglected. It was with a great sense of relief that I went home.
Once home, at first, my thoughts were of revenge: I’ll get that burnt-out doctor back (legally he hadn’t done anything wrong, but morally, he had), I’ll sue the facility (my treatment or lack thereof didn’t constitute lawsuit material).
Then, I thought of practical ways to make care better: the care workers should carry a little pad of forms, and when a patient requests something, they take a page off the pad and document it. That way, the care would be made to be better. This was perhaps a little better idea, but it ran on fear and probably would evoke resentment.
As I mulled this over, an idea came to me: this new method would use patient gratitude to thank staff for acts of understanding and kindness. And it would be patient-driven. I had been a vulnerable patient recently enough to know what I had been most grateful for, so I came up with this idea: Gratitude Coupons.
These innocent-seeming coupons would have the potential of changing the dynamic of the nursing home with its vulnerable patients and largely indifferent staff. With these coupons, patients have the power of their gratitude, and caregivers often respond to gratitude better than to threats and requirements. Here’s how they’d work:
These coupons, perhaps with a place for a message and signature of patients, would be periodically distributed free to patients, who can give them to hands-on care workers. If the patient is demented, and fellow employees believe the employee has shown one of these qualities to that patient, they can ask the home manager for an appropriate coupon to be given the employee.) Note to staff: one of these coupons is a reminder to the caregiver that a patient is grateful –it’s like a love letter –not to be bragged about in public.
– Lou Gottlieb Gottlieb@WBCable.net