The Stress of Caring
One of the most consistent changes in the structure of work over the past few decades has been a shift from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. More workers are now engaged in jobs that include providing care and assistance, especially in education and medicine. This work is satisfying for some people, but it can also be highly stressful. In the following scenario, consider how a company in the nursing care industry is responding to the challenges of the new environment.
Major Topic Areas
* Organizational change
Parkway Nursing Care is an organization ...view middle of the document...
The nursing home industry has come under increasing government scrutiny following investigations that turned up widespread patient abuse and billing fraud. Parkway has always had outstanding patient care, and no substantiated claim of abuse or neglect in any of its homes has ever been made, but the need for increased documentation will still affect the company. As the federal government tries to trim Medicare expenses, Parkway may face a reduction in funding.
As growth has continued, Parkway has remained committed to providing dignity and health to all residents in its facilities. The board of directors wants to see renewed commitment to the firm’s mission and core values, not a diffusion of its culture. Its members are worried there might be problems to address. Interviews with employees suggest there’s plenty to worry about.
Shift leader Maxine Vernon has been with Parkway for 15 years. “Now that the government keeps a closer eye on our staffing levels, I’ve seen management do what it can to keep positions filled, and I don’t always agree with who is hired. Some of the basic job skills can be taught, sure, but how to care for our patients—a lot of these new kids just don’t pick up on that.”
“The problem isn’t with staff—it’s with Parkway’s focus on filling the beds,” says nurse’s aide Bobby Reed. “When I started here, Parkway’s reputation was still about the service. Now it’s about numbers. No one is intentionally negligent—there just are too many patients to see.”
A recent college graduate with a B.A. in psychology, Dalton Manetti is more stressed than he expected he would be. “These aren’t the sweet grannies you see in the movies. Our patients are demanding. They complain about everything, even about being called patients, probably because most of them think they shouldn’t be here in the first place. A lot of times, their gripes amount to nothing, but we have to log them in anyway.”
Carmen Frank has been with Parkway almost a year and is already considering finding a new job. “I knew there were going to be physical parts to this job, and I thought I’d be able to handle that. It’s not like I was looking for a desk job, you know? I go home after every shift with aches all over—my back, my arms, my legs. I’ve never had to take so much time off from a job because I hurt. And then when I come back, I feel like the rest of the staff thinks I’m weak.”
“I started working here right out of high school because it was the best-paid of the jobs I could get,” says Niecey Wilson. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Now I really like my job. Next year I’m going to start taking some night classes so I can move into another position. But some of the staff just thinks of this as any other job. They don’t see the patients as people, more like inventory. If they want to work with inventory, they should get a job in retail.”
Last month, the company’s human resources department pulled the following...