DON Advice

Specialties LTC Directors


I am a new DON and looking for some helpful advice. I have worked for a SNF that last 15 years. I started out as a CNA, became a LPN floor nurse and was promoted to Unit Manager. After a few years I transitioned to a MDS Coordinator. While in MDS I went back to school and became a RN. Since then our building has gone through some major changes. Our ADON/RM retired and her replacement was not effective. Our DON at the time was asked to resign and it seems like everything has gone down hill from there. A new DON was hired and only lasted two months. I was asked to take over as Interim DON which I have been doing for a month now. I really want to make a difference and bring our building back to the facility it once was. The staff morale is very low and I feel as if they don't care if the residents are taken care of. I have had to let a couple nurses and a few CNA's go as their lack of professionalism put our residents safety and well being in jeopardy. Basically I am looking for ideas to boost morale and at the same time hold staff accountable. Any input is greatly appreciated!


70 Posts

Maybe try something simple first like holding a potluck to boost moral. Daily huddles and being transparent about the direction you want to go helps.


346 Posts

Specializes in long-term-care, LTAC, PCU.

I just became ADON at my facility and we are kind of in the same boat. I am re-starting our "thank you board". When an employee does something good such as picking up a shift or just going out of their way to help another staff member, you can write them a thank you and display it on a bulletin board in our main hall. This is visable by all staff and visitors. Then I am going to give the person who received the thank you something small like a dollar scratch off ticket or a small item like scented had sanitizer or lotion. The person who has the most thank you'd at the end of the month will get a larger "prize" such as a $25 gift card to a restaurant or grocery store. I'm going to have to use my own money but if it raises moral it's worth it. I am also going to do things like buy pizza for the staff. I want the staff to know that they are appreciated.

Specializes in Nursing Leadership.

I am an ADON working with a DON, and we are both new to our facility. What I notice is that when the long-timer's start reminiscing about how good things "used to be" it brings everybody down. I try to point out that we are creating our own new NOW so we need to stop thinking about how good we were back then. Don't worry about taking your facility back to what it once was. Create a new dream of who you want to become, and set that place as your goal. You are not the DON who made it so great 15 years ago, so your facility is going to be different than the one you had 15 years ago. It is much easier to get people excited about what they can create, then trying to be who they once were.

Lift moral by helping out on the floor, encouraging all levels of staff, and empowering each staff to create a new future for your place. And yes, that does include little thank you's, and public acknowledgment of exceptional workers.


7 Posts

Wish everyone had your attitude! Keep up the good work!


308 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Education, Management, QAPI.

When I first started as a DON/ADNS, I had all of the staff meet together and passed out a list of all staff names. I had each nurse write at least 3 positive things to at least 2 separate staff members and turn them in to me during the meeting. Yes, they put some mean stuff on there, but that's ok because I kept all the papers. I then typed the positive comments on paper ensuring that everyone had at least one positive statement and then put them up, anonymously, on a public board in the facility. It was received very well and went a long way to starting morale boosting.

I also had an inservice on lateral violence and how to build teamwork because lets face it, we cant do any of this alone!

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