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Photo of Julie DysonSaying goes: “We give time and attention to what really matters.”

Giving time can help you in your career and help improve resident care and satisfaction. Each day, we have the ability to make a difference, but it takes a special investment of something rare and irreplaceable: Time.

As humans, we all crave that feeling of being special, being important, feeling loved.

This doesn’t change as we age. In fact, I believe we sometimes crave it more as we age.

As a society, we focus strongly on the importance of spending time with children. We even have a phrase for it: Quality time.

As children, we often feel time is limitless. But we get away from this as we and those around us age. It’s almost as if the passing time takes the magic of childhood and that sense of wonder with it. In this career, we have the ability to bring that magic back.

Take a few minutes each day to engage with someone in your community, and you’ll see the difference time makes.

When you rush, you miss out

Each resident has lived through a lot of years. With their life experience, they see time differently. Many of us have had the feeling of going back in time as we listen to their stories.

Over the years in my career, I spent time with a resident who helped invent the atomic bomb for World War II, another who was one of the first female Army nurses, one who was a former professional boxer, one of the first female business owners in the area (she started her own photography studio), a female former physician, former beauty queens, and a family member of an Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast, and more.

I would never have known these histories had I not taken the time to hear them. No matter how much time someone has spent on this earth, they still have something to share.

A few minutes matters

Much of our days are scheduled around tasks, activities, and working on what must get done. We tell ourselves and each other that we’re so busy already; how can we fit in anything more?

But people’s feelings can’t be shaped around a schedule. No activity can be worth as much as simply spending time. And sometimes, taking what seems like extra time actually saves you time in the long run.

Let’s look at it a different way for a second: Wouldn’t your survey go a lot smoother, for instance, if you had happy residents and they shared that with your survey team?

It’s important to encourage all staff to start looking for such opportunities for short but meaningful interactions. It’s not just a matter of having the activities or life enrichment director take time.

Time for yourself matters, too. A few minutes spent reflecting and re-focusing on the core of why we do what we do can refresh your energy.

Take a few minutes each day to engage with someone in your community, and you’ll see the difference time makes.

The use of time is about building relationships, not simply checking a task off a list. Simply slowing down and fully engaging with others is how to get the maximum return on your investment of time.

Make each person feel they are the most important person in the room, because at that moment, they are. If you take the time for this, you’ll get a great return—it will help keep you from burning out.

Here are some ways to fit more meaningful time with residents into your days:

As you are doing rounds of the building, work in brief conversations with the residents you encounter.

During meal times, work your way around the dining room—really listening to what residents share.

Create a special recognition time to showcase what you’ve heard and learned.

There’s often a brief time in the middle of the afternoon when things slow down just enough to give attention to why we do what we do.   

 

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