Predicting the future is not easy, but using past and current trends is the right way to go. At least that will allow those who are making the decisions to be sure that they have considered everything in the best light possible before they choose which direction to take.
Planning and Change in Rapid Development
One of the main issues with change management and future planning for long-term care facilities right now is that the changes are taking place so rapidly. If the changes were slower, there would be more of a chance to adapt. Since that is not the case, more has to be addressed regarding how to change quickly. That is something that has not been required of these managers before, so they are in new territory to some extent. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that more mistakes could be made because there are fewer options from which to choose and less on which to judge. That just allows for more dynamic thinking, though, and those who can provide that thinking will excel (Chin, 2008; Draper, LaDou, & Tennenhouse, 2011).
Future Operational Challenges
The future operational challenges that are going to be faced by long-term care facilities are many - and they are significant. Many of the people who are in these facilities now and who are going to need these facilities in the future do not realize what is at stake and the issues that are being faced. The people who are in charge of running these operations, though, definitely understand the issues they are facing. There is not enough time, not enough money, and not enough staff to care for the large influx of residents that is about to come their way (Anderson & Anderson, 2001; Saltman, Duboi, & Chawla, 2006; Snodgrass, 2004). In order to have a chance at taking care of the larger number of people, the management of these organizations must take into account any and all ways in which they can move forward and have more money and time. They need larger facilities, and more of them. Skilled caregivers will also be needed, which can help provide job security to people who get their schooling in the nursing profession now.
Just having more facilities and more people is not going to be enough, though, because there is more to caring for others than just placing them in a facility and having people help them. They need the compassion and interaction that comes from people who genuinely want to help them and who have the time to help them. They also need a safe place, enough food, medications, and other items that would be considered basic necessities by most people. There is no easy way to provide all of these things, especially if the money is not available to these long-term care facilities. Grants and loans can go only so far, and many of these facilities are already struggling to have enough funds as it is. If they do not find other ways to get funds for their facilities, they may end up having to close their doors instead of expanding like they need to do in order to help more people.
One of the most significant issues for change management and future planning is the way the leaders work with their followers. If there is not effective leadership, how can an organization stay together and move forward? Leaders should consider transformational leadership, where they are still in charge but they are also clearly part of a team (Chin, 2008; Kotter, 2011; Marshak, 2005). Each person who follows that leader will feel as though he or she has something to offer to the team, and the leader will, in turn, make that person feel needed and valued. Leadership that does not make the followers feel as though they want to follow the leader is lacking, and is not good leadership that can offer a future to the company. Leaders are only leaders when they have followers, and they must continue to be good leaders if they are going to retain the followers they have and bring in new followers.
The ethics of any leader are vital (Chin, 2008). That is especially true in an organization like long-term care, where people are working with others who may not be able to do things for themselves. It would be very easy for unscrupulous people to take advantage of those who are unclear about things, or those who cannot defend themselves mentally, emotionally, physically, or financially, from harm. However, when a leader upholds a high degree of ethics that leader's followers are more likely to do the same. That is worth a great deal in a service-based industry. It is very important for any leader to lead by example, and to show the kind of ethics he or she wants to see from his or her followers. Leaders who display poor ethics encourage their followers to do the same (Anderson & Anderson, 2001; Chin, 2008).
The customers of a long-term care facility are the people who are in that facility, but they are also the people who have placed their loved ones in that facility. These people are trusting the facility to take care of loved ones that they are no longer able to care for on their own. Not only is this expensive, but the emotional connection is often very strong and the care their relatives are getting is going to be scrutinized and judged by them. While it is unlikely that the staff at the facility will do everything just the way the loved one would like to see it done, the main thing is that the leadership works hard to protect the residents and to provide them with everything they need to keep them safe and content. If the relatives can see that their loved ones are being treated with care and respect, that can go a long way toward easing everyone's minds when it comes to the living and caregiving arrangements. Leaders who are clear about the way the customers should be treated will operate a better long-term care facility, because followers will know what expectations have to be met (Draper, LaDou, & Tennenhouse, 2011; Johnson, 2003; Judd, 2009).
The followers, or the staff of the organization, also must be treated with respect and care. They work very hard, and many times they go above and beyond what is necessary. They also do not make a lot of money for their efforts in most cases, so what they are doing is not about getting rich. It is truly about caring and compassion, and is a labor of love for them. Leaders who see that and reward that will build loyalty (Phillips, 1983; Saltman, Duboi, & Chawla, 2006). That can keep people coming back to work even when things are difficult or they are struggling, and keeping them coming to work means that the residents get the care they need.
General Organizational Operations
No matter what is going on in the personal and professional lives of leaders, they have to be aware of what is taking place in the organization. The operations are not something they can just set up and then walk away from. They should also not allow the organization to run on "auto pilot" while they are not paying attention. Leaders should certainly delegate duties to others, and should not be expected to do everything. Despite that, though, they should be careful of too much delegation. Following through to see that others are performing their duties correctly is a good way for the leader to delegate but also spend time with followers and determine whether those people are doing their jobs. If for some reason a particular operation is not being conducted to the leader's satisfaction, it can be changed. The more quickly it is discovered, the more easily that change will come and the less jarring it will be for others in the organization (Chin, 2008). That is particularly true if a person must be let go or there is a major procedural change that will need to be undertaken.
Among the ways to plan for the future of a long-term care facility is to get the community involved (Draper, LaDou, & Tennenhouse, 2011). In order to do that, though, the facility will have to do more than advertise their services and ask for donations. It is vital that the facility understand what makes up a community and how to get the members of that community involved, so that the facility can move forward with plans that make it part of the community. By becoming a part of the community and showcasing its value, a facility that provides long-term care has a better chance of seeing success and…