A word from Jamey McDonald, CEO, Beulah Garden Homes.
Everybody’s mail box is full of reports, updates, tips, reminders and good advice–about coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic consuming our world. I am so appreciative of all the helpfulness. At times it’s overwhelming. But, we sort through it all and do our best.
I thought it would be good to talk a little about of how we are working our way through the COVID-19 Pandemic. We aren’t “there” yet…we are still working our way through it. Every once in a while I hit the pause button and ask myself–“what are we learning here?”. Here are some reflections from our corner. All of them come from our context so feel free to adapt them to your situation.
Leadership Lesson #1 — When working with vulnerable people, err on the side of caution. We work with seniors ranging in age from 60’s to 100’s and consequently, they are “vulnerable to health concerns”. When the news of COVID-19 began to reach us in late February, we immediately sat down to talk about it as a management team. How shall we respond? What will we do to push back on it? What if someone contracts the virus among us? In short, we took it seriously. If you work with vulnerable groups, (seniors, immune compromised, at risk populations?) …err on the side of caution.
Leadership Lesson #2 — Appoint a captain, and make sure people know who that captain is, and that he/she works with empowerment. We have a management team here at Beulah. But, because of circumstances, I was not the best choice to captain this mission. So, Yvonne Ho, was designated as leader. She doesn’t have to be the smartest, fastest, quickest of the team, but she is the captain. She has the final say. She knows it. We know it. She’s collaborative, approachable, flexible, but ultimately responsible. None of us feel jealous or competitive about this. It’s a huge responsibility. People need to know “who’s” in charge in your situation.
Leadership Lesson #3 — Look after the front-line workers. Who are the front-line people? Do they know you are supporting them physically, financially, emotionally, purposefully? We have over 50 front-line staff serving our residents. They are carrying the pointed edge of all this. They are courageous and committed, but they are also concerned. We make sure they have the tools to be safe. We are daily staying in touch and supporting them. We want them to know, WE CARE about them as caregivers. Knowing they have emotional support is incredibly valuable to them. What have you done for people that serve with you?
Leadership Lesson #4 — Protect your people that you care for…even if it seems to be restrictive. In times of crisis, “freedoms” sometimes get restricted. We have chosen to “close” our residences to outside guests (families, friends, visitors). Most have understood this step–it’s meant to be protective. Some have found it troubling. We understand, but at the core we just want to protect our residents from unnecessary exposure. In your world, are there restrictions that might be disruptive, but necessary?
Leadership Lesson #5 — Things change, be adaptive. We make decisions based on the information we have at the time, and then, lo and behold, the information changes the next day. Yes, that’s true. Be adaptive. Communicate regularly, even if you have to counter previous info. Just before this crisis hit us, I (Jamey) left to go to the US to visit family with my wife. Two days after arrival in Texas, it became apparent to us that we needed to get home sooner. We cut things short and arrived home 5 days before we had scheduled. On top of that, I am now in self quarantine for 14 days to be sure of my health. I hadn’t planned it, but I have to adapt to it. Our team is managing quite well, without me, but they too have had to adapt. Do your best to be strong in your core, and flexible in your outer person.
Leadership Lesson #6 (a bonus one!) — Sometimes, in crises, creative unplanned moves come upon us. We have hit pause on every event. We have closed our amenity rooms and encouraged people to NOT gather. This has compounded some feelings of isolation and loneliness. So, this week our Wellness Manager, Mary Dickau, captured an idea from the Italian housebound residents who were “singing from their balconies”. She contacted a “minstrel” duet and for two hours, they stood outside people’s windows at Beulah, and serenaded them with familiar songs and tunes. It was magical in the warm sunny weather we have seen. What creative moves does a challenging time bring to you?
Undoubtedly you are learning lessons too. And undoubtedly there is much more to learn. Hang in there, and do your best to be resilient as you are doing your best to be safe.
Jamey S. McDonald | Chief Executive Officer