Collena “Lena” Rhodes

Kent State University


“After reflecting on this project, I learned that although the dilemma at hand may seem large and somewhat daunting, by working smarter you can make a difference even with small changes that will make a larger impact.”

As a senior Nursing Home Administration student at Kent State University, I completed my Administrator In Training internship/practicum at Laurel Lake CCRC in Hudson, Ohio. Laurel Lake is an independently owned, not-for-profit campus with a continuum of care including independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing. Laurel Lake sits on a beautiful 150 scenic acre setting and is home to nearly 500 residents. Laurel Lake’s mission is, “Laurel Lake strives to be the community of choice for adults who aspire to lead lives filled with meaning, purpose, and lifelong opportunities for growth and service. Together, the residents and staff of Laurel Lake demonstrate these values every day: Compassion – Our commitment to help others in a spirit of caring, kindness, and understanding; Respect – Our commitment to accept all persons, treating each individual with dignity and consideration; Excellence – Our commitment to strive for the highest quality of service, maintaining integrity in the stewardship of our resources; and, Service – Our commitment to work individually and collectively to best meet the needs of others.” During my time at Laurel Lake, I can truly say that I witnessed this mission in action. The residents are committed to community, collaboration, service, and are lifelong learners and teachers in all subjects imaginable. The hardworking and compassionate staff provides the highest quality of care for the residents who live there, every day. Laurel Lake genuinely exemplifies active retirement living.

At the OAGE Conference, I presented a poster about my internship at Laurel Lake. A large part of this presentation included a QAPI Staffing project that I worked on during my time at Laurel Lake and in conjunction with my KSU practicum curriculum. I found that Laurel Lake, like many other facilities in our area and across the state, faced a staffing hardship in our skilled nursing facility. The goals of my QAPI staffing project were to: (1) Increase from a four star staffing rating to a five star staffing rating by adjusting RN FTE’s on second shift in The Crown Center; (2) Improve staff stability and adequate staffing for residents of The Crown Center by reevaluating recruitment efforts for nursing staff to fill vacancies, reducing agency usage and offering a more competitive wage scale in order to provide continuity of care for residents and promote a person-centered care environment; (3) Reconsider scheduling practices by allowing nursing staff to make their own monthly schedules and limit the amount of PRN staff to more adequately provide consistency of care and proper coverage to The Crown Center.

For the first goal, I worked with my Administrator to calculate our current staffing rating according to the National Star Cut Points for Staffing Measures and Staffing Points and Rating tables. With this, my calculations explained that by simply replacing an LPN Charge Nurse on second shift with an RN Charge Nurse, we moved into the five star rating (from the four star). Next, during my time at Laurel Lake I was able to fill in for our HR Director for a few weeks. Throughout this time, I worked with department managers to keep the new hire process running smoothly and discovered that there was turmoil in the hiring process. For my second goal, I created a new hire spreadsheet where, after my three weeks as acting HR Director, I was able to analyze that a significant amount of our interested applicants did not accept the position due to rate of pay. Additionally, I found that we were not efficiently advertising and distributing our STNA applications that had been submitted through our website, and that there were ways to improve recruiting for open positions. We used a third party for recruitment efforts, and therefore, were somewhat invisible or difficult to find in an Indeed dominated job search world. I also consulted with our Human Resources Director and Director of Healthcare to write a simplified classified ad that would better stand out and attract applicants. Lastly, my third goal was created after finding that a large number of our STNA’s were choosing to go PRN (as needed), so that they would receive a higher rate of pay and have more control over their schedules. We use a monthly paper schedule, and have found difficulty staffing weekends due to PRN employees having the ability to make their own schedules, etc. I proposed that if we pay our full and part-time employees a higher rate, and allow them more control of their schedules by using a “fill-in planning request” schedule, we would be able to better staff to our facility’s needs and maintain continuity of care for our residents while doing so. Additionally, these goals would lower our agency usage which would benefit our organization financially, and as a whole.

After reflecting on this project, I learned that although the dilemma at hand may seem large and somewhat daunting, by working smarter you can make a difference even with small changes that will make a larger impact. Overall, my Ohio Scholars in Aging experience was fantastic. During our meetings in Columbus, we were able to thoroughly understand the divisions of ODA and their processes, programs that are provided and how each of these work together. The speed networking event was my favorite activity, which allowed us to interact with professionals in the field and our fellow Ohio Scholars. We were able to hear many speakers, and we also toured the statehouse. As a young professional, learning the processes and seeing where and how policies are made first-hand, was beneficial. The OAGE Conference was a great experience as well. It was my first time attending OAGE, and I was very impressed with the speakers, as well as with other students’ research presentations. This entire program and attendance at the conference provided ample networking opportunities, for employers, graduate programs, and was a nice way to meet other students and hear their research interests and goals. I am grateful for my experience in this program, and hope that other students in the aging field will continue to grow through the Ohio Scholars in Aging program.