When it comes to infection control, the dirtiest thing in your facility during the Holiday Season has to be the three-flavored popcorn tin behind every nurses station. You've spent the past ten months throwing away half-finished Diet Cokes, leaving hot memos on the Nutrition Pantry fridge about personal food, and scolding nurses for eating yogurt at the med cart.
But even you're a sucker for the cheese popcorn.
It's a simple gesture - families, vendors, and other staff want to take the opportunity to say "thanks" with food. It's what our moms taught us. And as early as the middle of November the goodies will start filtering in. Cookies, candies, pretzels...The community popcorn.
Our staff understand the concept of not accepting gifts. Our families understand our requests that they bring something that everyone may enjoy. Unfortunately, items like the community popcorn tin truly do undermine our efforts in infection control, environmental integrity, and professionalism. Extendicare Health Services has published a nice consumer information sheet highlighting several creative alternatives for showing appreciation during the Holidays.
Here are a few of my suggestions:
- Collect holiday food items and donate them to a food bank weekly through the Holidays; Communicate this initiative to staff and form a committee to assist with deliveries
- Have a poinsettia tree for staff- Families pick a staff member off the tree to sponsor a Holiday flower, delivered around December 15th - just be ready to cover the remaining number of staff that are not sponsored by a family
- Hold a staff Holiday appreciation party catered and hosted and served by willing families and residents
- Hold a daily or weekly silent auction for all donated goodies and let staff select a local charity to donate the money
There are lots of great things that you can do with Holiday gifts from families. What is most important is that you communicate early on to both staff and families. This way you can avoid confusion, hurt feelings, or a broken policy - and truly enjoy the Holiday Season!