EnsignPrize! – judging behind the scenes

This has been one of my favorite weeks in YEARS in skilled nursing.  I’ve had the privilege to judge, in person, some of the finalists of the eprize in California and Colorado.  Below are a few photos from my time behind the scenes.  Unfortunate realization … I didn’t have many regrets about my time as an administrator until this week.  Seeing the great work that these leaders have inspired in their staff has been humbling.

Serious Tilapia. Administrator say, “Dave you don’t have to eat it all.” I say, “I wouldn’t if I didn’t want to. This is great.”
“Cheesecake Factory” quality cream of broccoli soup.
Wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it. Alzheimer’s facility in Colorado that I was afraid of years ago when we acquired it. Now, didn’t want to leave. What a great feeling. These people have become legit experts in meeting the needs of the cognitively impaired. There, “behaviors” is a bad word. Quote: Behaviors are simply unmet needs.  To have 8 residents with extreme dementia peacefully sitting together engaged in meaningful activities compared to how it was years ago was jaw-dropping.
Organic garden w/ help from local organic gardeners. Chef uses the produce in soups, dishes all the time. Residents help cultivate/grow.
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The EnsignPrize! home stretch

At Ensign’s 2011 annual meeting I spoke about some personal feelings re: hitting 10 years with the organization and in skilled nursing. It was a time of deep reflection. It was then that I developed some of the thoughts I’ve shared here about burn out, empathy, and a hunger to do more after surviving industry-common career crushing experiences. Some of those thoughts are found here.

As “luck” would have it, while I was in that very reflective mood, I was hit by some new, related ideas during a couple early morning rides. I love to listen to NPR podcasts during those runs/rides and back then I listened to a Freakonomics podcast that was like lighting a fuse in my mind. When I got to the office that morning, ideas started to crystalize, as seen on my whiteboard:

I don’t expect you can follow the train of thought there. But, with the help and input of my colleagues at Ensign, what started as some 10-year angst turned into the eprize! … our organization’s $150,000 competition to transform the industry by transforming the day-in-the-life of our residents. At that 2011 annual meeting, I shared with my friends and colleagues the story of how the idea of the eprize! was born and then challenged them to run with it. And … they did.

The executive directors and directors of nursing upped the ante to $150k and all agreed to put money into the ‘pot’ from their own facilities to fund the award. For more details about the competition and why we did it the way we did it, see this “halftime talk” I gave to the organization about it:

Well … the applications are finally in and uploaded onto the EnsignEprize.com website and the contestant facilities are lobbying their communities hard to have them ‘vote’ for their application. The eprize! award winner will be announced in early April. As I’ve read through and watch the videos of some of the applications I’ve gotten emotional to see the small and big improvements in the systems we use to care for our residents and patients with more dignity, humanity, and choice. I hope you take a minute to go to the website and see what we’ve been up to for the last year as a group. And, please, by all means … share this with your friends. Better yet, challenge your own organization to do something similar!

Radio Lab Podcasts

Food For Thought

I eat A LOT.

Literally & mentally.  I eat a lot of food throughout the day — mostly fruits, veggies, nuts, hummus, grains (I’ve sort of become a health nut) but that’s another topic for another day.

I also eat a lot of Food 4 Thought.  Over the years I’ve found a few sources of print & audio & video that feed that hunger.  These sources usually have nothing to do (directly) with providing world class service and leadership in long-term care.  BUT … I’ve found that by looking, constantly, outside our industry for the brightest ideas we’ll be able to apply them and improve our profession.  Some of my favorites …

First, the newest discovery: Freakonomics.

Freakonomics Radio
Freakonomics Podcasts

Many of you have probably heard of Freakonomics or evenread the book.  The authors haves a blog on the nytimes and a podcast that I started listening to just a couple weeks ago.  The pack a ton into about 20 minutes … discovering the ‘hidden’ side of all sorts of things.  In fact 2 recent episodes prompted me to start a conversation with my partners at work that I think may lead to huge steps forward for us.

  1. http://freakonomicsradio.com/the-no-lose-lottery.html The No Lose Lottery episode prompted me to encourage our HR team to see if there was something we could apply to instigate more savings among our employees.  Of course we have a 401k like everyone but is there another, cutting-edge option patterned after lottery principles that would be more effective?
  2. http://freakonomicsradio.com/reading-rockets-and-rithmetic.html The Reading Rockets and Rithmetic episode hit a nerve big time for me, in light of my recent post on wanting to dedicate my next 10 years to transforming the industry.  Got me thinking about how to involve many others in a HUGE way.

Second, RadioLab Podcasts.

Radio Lab Podcasts
Radio Lab Podcasts

These guys take on all sorts of issues through a scientific lens.  I’m not a science guy at all.  I hated chemistry.  I lean much more right brained than left.  But, the way they present really captivates.  Here’s a few that I’ve shared with others …

  1. http://www.radiolab.org/2010/feb/19/lucy/ about a Chimpanzee
  2. http://www.radiolab.org/2010/aug/09/ about WORDS
  3. http://www.radiolab.org/2010/apr/05/ about LIMITS (this one was incredibly timely as I had about 15 miles left on a 60mi bike ride when it came on my ipod)

Next, This American Life.

This American Life Podcasts
This American Life Podcasts

This American Life sort of started it all for me.  I needed a companion during my long early morning bike rides as I trained for my 1/2 Ironman in June 2010.  I’d be on rides for anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours before work (hitting the road at 5am).  These podcasts were, and are, gold.  They totally get in my head and prompt new thoughts on work and family issues.

Lastly, TED Talks.  I discovered these a couple years ago and my wife still can’t get over how I can just watch talk after talk on stuff that’s usually way over my head.

TED Talks
TED Talks

Now.  Go.  Eat.