MVH: Tell us a little bit about your background. What led you here?
Brad: For approximately twenty years I have worked with individuals with intellectual disabilities and mental health diagnoses in residential programs. The last ten years of my career was spent as an Administrator of an Intermediate Care Nursing Facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities with significant health issues. After ten years within that service sector, I began to seek out a new learning and career opportunity in the healthcare sector and was excited to see the opening with the Maine Veterans' Homes. I am not a veteran myself; however, my father, uncles, and grandfather all served in the armed forces and their service and influence in my life helped shape the man I am today. I also have friends who have served in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. When I was thinking about a change in career, I wanted to have the opportunity to give back to a population that truly deserves the best society can give; to me, veterans are that population.
MVH: What made you decide to join Maine Veterans’ Homes?
Brad: The idea of working for individuals who have served our nation and given years of their life defending our freedoms was the greatest factor in deciding to work for MVH. In addition, I was impressed with the staff that I had the chance to meet when I toured the South Paris home. The staff were polite and visibly attentive to the individuals they were supporting. The facility was very well kept, and the home exuded an air of compassion and positive energy. Finally, I was very impressed with the interview process and how positive it was and the excitement and professionalism exhibited by those who contacted and interviewed me.
MVH: What has surprised you the most, that you didn’t see from the outside, or learn from the interview process?
Brad: The level of team work that I observed that occurs within the organization. People of all different areas of specialty work together, know each other, and support each other to better the services provided to the veterans, spouses of veterans, and Gold Star parents. Some organizations talk about how connected the employees are, but here there is a true inter-agency connection that is seen and felt.
MVH: What do YOU consider the most important qualities of a LTC administrator?
Brad: A Long Term Care Administrator must be someone who is genuinely dedicated to the well being of others. The job is not only to support and ensure that those who live in the home are cared for and allowed to have the highest quality of life possible, but also that the staff who care for them. I believe an LTC administrator must be willing and able to stop and listen to the ideas and concerns of others and find creative ways to address those needs. The successful LTC administrators that I have known and respected have been team players, open to hearing complaints and concerns, and truly demonstrated a desire to improve the environments they have worked within.
MVH: What challenges do you expect to face?
Brad: I expect that the LTC field will continue to become faster paced with the healthcare field adapting to new medical and technological advances. I see this as a good thing because advances often lead to cures being found, shorter hospital stays, better and safer vaccines, medication regime reductions, decreased falls, and an overall improvement in peoples’ quality of life. As an LTC administrator, one will need to keep up with a multitude of changes which can be a challenging, but will also ensure that the work is exciting and stimulating.
A second challenge LTC Administrators face across the United States is a workforce shortage that is heavily impacting the healthcare sector. Having a shortage results in veteran staff and support staff qualified to provide nursing care needing to pick up open hours to ensure service delivery. As an LTC Administrator, one must think and act creatively when it comes to scheduling, thus ensuring a fair distribution of work to avoid burn out. To do so, an LTC Administrator must actively listen to the nurses, aides, and the staff in each department that ensure services are delivered. To guarantee that staff return to work and stay positive, the LTC Administrator must hear their concerns, give them a voice, and support their suggestions. The staff know what works the best for them (and residents) when it comes to schedule development; let them lead the charge!
MVH: In your experience, what is the biggest obstacle LTC leaders face when they try to achieve excellence?
Brad: The greatest road block in the way of achieving excellence is to harbor a fear of change! Being afraid of change will prevent any individual from achieving excellence and this is certainly the case in the LTC sector. Every day the needs of patients change and the techniques of medicine advance. To be unwilling to change means that one must except failure. To be only willing to go along with change provides a means of survival. Accepting change, taking steps, and being willing to fail and try again places one on the road to achieving excellence. Getting others to accept and embrace change along with and accepting the potential for failure along the way is, in my opinion, what eventually leads one to achieve excellence. Excellent teams and leaders work together, accept change, and make it routine.
MVH: What is the biggest takeaway you want people to know about you?
Brad: I believe it is important for me to maintain an open mind to ideas, hopes and desires of the veterans and staff I have the honor of working for and with to make a real difference!
Maine Veterans’ Homes is an independent nonprofit organization serving Maine’s veterans and families. For more information – including volunteer and employment opportunities – visit www.MaineVets.org