For Audrey Kahl, a team leader and housekeeping professional with Spang Crest nursing home and rehabilitation center in Lebanon, PA, no two days are the same. Flexibility is key in this 105-room, three-floor facility that is part of the Luthercare organization, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that caters to senior living.
Even though Kahl is in charge of carpet cleaning at the facility, her entire department has been cross-trained so they are able to fill in on each other’s duties in a pinch. This means in the midst of her carpet cleaning responsibilities, she is also dealing with patron laundry, tile floors, room cleanings, and more.
CMM interviewed Kahl as part of its new podcast series CMM Frontline. Below are a few questions from her interview, which offers a glimpse into the daily challenges and responsibilities of a housekeeping professional working in a long-term care facility.
The following information discusses the basics of workloading and scheduling challenges—only a fraction of Kahl’s overall responsibilities.
What unexpected challenges do you tend to encounter as an employee in a long-term care facility?
AK: Since we have a rehabilitation room here, we have a lot of people who come in and they may be here for five days. … You may have one [person] leaving, and within a half hour, you may have another one leaving, [resulting in unexpected room turnover.]
We may have a death in the facility and [may be told], “Can you please have that room cleaned and ready to go? We have somebody scheduled to come in within a half hour to an hour.” So we have to quickly do a turnover, what I call spring cleaning—walls, drawers, carpet, everything—in that quick amount of time.
So you will only have 30 minutes to turn over a room from a guest that’s exiting and clean it to standard for somebody new who’s going to be moving in?
AK: Normally it will take an hour. If we need to have that room within a half hour, it’s all hands on deck. We gather people and say, “Can you come help us? We need this room in a half hour,” and then we go back to having them get their duties done.
What does a room move entail for you? What goes into the process of getting ready for the next person to move in?
AK: We take carts up. We pack the resident’s belongings and we move them to the [new room the resident plans to occupy.] … We try to put them back exactly as they were in their old room. After we do that, we then go down and we turn clean that room that they were previously in. Again that’s the walls, the carpet, the beds, we pull the drawers out, the curtains, the windows, the screens—a full-on cleaning of the whole room.
What would you say is the most challenging part of working in a facility that’s not just a place for people to visit, but it’s really a living environment?
AK: You have to learn how to work around people. You have to work within their schedules, because they do live here. There are times they may be sleeping, and you can’t do a certain task that you need to do, so you just have to check back. You have to be very flexible. … Prioritizing is a key ingredient. … If you do have to stop and are not able to get to one [task], know which one you have to get next.