I am often pulled from my responsibilities in Activities to provide transportation for residents to medical appointments. The activities program is suffering and I believe that the residents’ quality of life is being affected. Do you have any advice about how I should approach this with my Administrator?
It is true that many Activity Professionals are also responsible for the transportation programs at their communities. However, since every company is different and policies and regulations vary, I suggest completing the following steps before sitting down to share your concern with your Administrator:
- Review your job description to determine if language is included about your position providing transportation, and if so, what details are specified: transportation to medical appointments, outings, all transportation, being a back-up driver, etc.
- Track the amount of time you spent on transports, from the minute you get pulled from your programming tasks to the minute you’re back in the building (i.e. include the time it takes you to warm up the vehicle, get gas, load and unload resident etc). Track it for four weeks and work it out as a percentage of your time every week.
- Research what your company policy and resident contracts state about transportation, plus the regulations for the level of care you work in. You need to have a good understanding about what transportation your organization is required to provide versus what is an optional extra.
When you schedule a meeting with your ED/Administrator to review your concern, try approaching it from pragmatic, solutions-based perspective. “I understand that our community is required to provide transportation for residents to go to medical appointments, and I am happy to be involved in making this successful. Over the past four weeks, I have spent approximately _______ % of my time on medical transports and as a result activities have had to be cancelled and I am struggling to get the rest of my tasks completed. I have a couple of solutions that I’d like to discuss with you so activities are held as scheduled and residents continue to have good transportation services.”
Discussion Topics/Possible Solutions
- Let your Administrator know that you have reviewed your job description and understand that you are responsible for _______________________ transportation tasks. Ask your Administrator to clarify exactly what his/her expectations are for the transportation program and to whom those responsibilities fall, to ensure you have a mutual understanding.
- Show your Administrator your research on resident contracts and applicable regulations and determine together if you are providing the transportation that you are required to provide, or if you’re going above and beyond based on being nice and wanting to offer exceptional customer service. This is one of those situations where you should only provide what you have to!
- Suggest limiting transportation to resident appointments to only two days per week, so you know you have three days that you won’t have to split your time. Also make sure your transportation radius (distance from the community where you provide free transportation) isn’t too generous.
- Ask if your company has another community or another building/level of care in your town or city, and if so, suggest sharing drivers. One of my previous employers had two communities in one town, only a short distance from each other. The company offered “shuttle service” transportation (i.e. not one-on-one, multiple people on the bus at one time) on three days per week, so each of the three Life Enrichment staff members took one day. They were busy all day with transports but it was only one day per week and they could plan their calendars and other responsibilities around it.
- If you have an MOD schedule – suggest that that scheduled MOD for the upcoming weekend is also the scheduled back-up driver so everyone divides the responsibility of covering appointments. (I know of one company that did this and ED gained much greater respect for the AP who typically helped out with transportation – to the point that a part time driver was hired and the AP no longer had to help cover!) Or suggest that the MOD cover the activities that you have to miss when you’re out doing transports.
And don’t forget that YOU are the Quality of Life Champion:
Try turning transportation time into an activity. As long as you feel completely comfortable and confident driving the vehicle with your “precious cargo”, you could try initiating some simple activities: reminiscing, singing along to favorite music, the ABC game, license plate game etc. While this doesn’t take a place of activities you could be doing in the community, transporting a resident is a wonderful opportunity to engage that resident in something that they enjoy. It may also help reduce any anxiety associated with leaving the safe space of the community or fear related to the upcoming medical appointment.
Got a question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Laughlin, NAAP President