1. Dellosso, Michael PTA

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Being a home care clinician can be lonely. Although we're with patients all day, interactions with co-workers are often limited to phone, email, or text. Other than through documentation, no one outside the home knows the great work we do. As one clinician said: "When a patient has a major breakthrough or accomplishes a goal, I go outside and do my celebratory touchdown dance, and nobody is even there to see it. It's a lonely feeling."


Due to the isolating nature of home care, it's difficult to recognize clinicians for the great work they do. Yes, patient progress is measured and documented. This gets noticed and hopefully recognized at discharge or by chart review. But how does great patient care get noticed? Gostick and Elton, in their groundbreaking book, The Carrot Principle (2007), noted that 79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as the key reason for leaving. And 65% report they weren't recognized at all in the past year. Regular recognition improves employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention. The challenge then is for leadership to recognize employees and for clinicians to assist them in doing so.


Here's how home care clinicians can promote the great work their colleagues are doing:


Listen. Listen closely when patients talk about their care for any mention of appreciation for a colleague. Sometimes they'll say, "The nurse is really nice" or "The therapist is doing a great job." Probe for feedback. Ask questions like: "Is there anyone doing a really tremendous job that you'd like to recognize?" Patients love to brag about their clinicians.


Probe. If they do mention someone specific, ask for details. "What about your nurse makes her so nice?" or "How is your therapist doing such a great job?"


Document. Make note of the specifics the patient mentions. Recognition that includes specific details is always better than a vague, generic statement.


Elevate. Once you have all your information, send an email of recognition to the colleague's leadership ladder. Include supervisors, managers, directors, and vice presidents who oversee the employee. And don't forget to include the colleague. In the email, be specific and include quotes from the patient, and thank the colleague for doing amazing work.


Here's a sample of what a recognition email might look like:


Mr. Patient and his wife were very complimentary of Jess saying she is, "very knowledgeable and caring." Mr. Patient said he feels like Jess really cares about him and his wife added, "You can tell it's not just a job to her; it's more than that." Jess, you made quite an impact on Mr. Patient and his wife. Thank you for all you do and for making Mr. Patient feel cared for in a special way!


Ideally, each member of the leadership team would respond and thank Jess for her excellent work and thank the sender for acknowledging a colleague. This allows leadership to hear about the work employees are doing, the colleague to be recognized for doing great work, and the sender to be recognized for elevating a colleague. It's a win-win-win situation.




Gostick A., Elton C. (2007). The Carrot Principle. Free Press. [Context Link]