“She makes residents each feel special, caring for them and treating their families as if they are her own. Daphne has an infectious smile and positive attitude about everything all day every day that she is here.”
You can see why these words from Daphne Brown’s nominator convinced us to choose her as our April Nurse of the Month. Since 2007, Daphne has been Director of Nursing at Ozark Health Nursing and Rehab Center – a 118-bed facility offering long-term, post-acute and respite care – in Clinton, Arkansas. She has worked in home health, hospital and long-term care settings. Like many nurses, the profession runs in Daphne’s family; her mother and sister are nurses as well.
Overjoyed that Long-Term Care Nursing Chose Her
As part of a multi-faceted organization, Daphne explains that she was happy working on the hospital side, and being part of the long-term care team wasn’t on her radar.
“The organization I work for is a critical access hospital with a nursing home and home health attached to it. When I was the quality manager on the hospital side, the nursing home needed a new Director of Nursing. Our CEO felt that I was the best fit, and asked me to assume the role. It’s been a privilege.”
Daphne finds that working in long-term care is even more rewarding than she expected.
“Taking care of people I’ve seen in the community is one of my favorite parts of the job. In this area, family is so important to our residents. When they leave their home and come to us, they’re going from one family to another. It’s an honor for us to become that new family and take care of them.”
Location, Technology Offer an Edge
Daphne points out that being in a long-term care facility attached to a hospital provides a huge advantage for both the staff and the residents.
“We don’t have to call an ambulance to pick up our residents if they have an immediate medical need; we can just take them down the hall to the ER. Having access to radiology, labs, outpatient and all the hospital services, our residents don’t experience the disruption of leaving the facility, and we can maintain our contact with them.”
Being in a rural area, Daphne explains that their residents also frequently benefit from telemedicine.
“We can connect to a large urban hospital, with specialty physicians, who are able to see our residents remotely. It saves them from a one-and-a-half-hour journey each way, and enables a more rapid response.”
Besides telemedicine, Daphne points to other technologies that are helping to improve patient care.
“Having an electronic medical record allows all of us to have access to information about a resident at any time, in real time. We no longer have to wait for someone to finish using a big heavy paper chart. We can be quicker to attend to things going on with the resident, because the information is right here, right now.”
Daphne cautions nurses to use technology wisely, taking the human factor into account.
“When I was right out of nursing school, a colleague taught me to never rely only on the technology and equipment you have at your disposal. You also have to look at your residents and talk to them. By always doing a hands-on assessment, in conjunction with technology and machines, you can then fully determine what’s going on with the residents. I’ve carried that advice through multiple facets of my career.”
LTC Nursing is Hard Work – and Often Misunderstood
With change the “new normal” in the healthcare industry, Daphne acknowledges that the job of a nurse is never easy.
“First, keeping up with all the regulations is a challenge. Then we must provide higher levels of care – at current staffing levels – to people who are coming into the nurse home setting much sicker than they used to be. To overcome that, you must have a very competent staff, and educate, educate, educate.”
As the need for long-term care nurses grows, Daphne sees a major misconception that must be overcome.
“The perception is that nurses who work in LTC aren’t very skilled or competent. Nothing could be further from the truth. These nurses work extremely hard; in fact, nurses who have come from other areas without any long-term care experience are overwhelmed by how hard our nurses work and what they accomplish in a shift. I would like to see greater respect for LTC nurses within the nursing profession.”
Daphne hopes the WHO’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife will generate broader awareness of the contributions of all nurses, no matter their area of specialty.
“What we do is vital in the healthcare industry…and not just the nursing tasks we perform. Our love for our patients and residents, taking care of family, friends and community, is part of our jobs. People who are considering or have chosen nursing need to be sure that this is a calling for them, that their heart and soul are in it. You need empathy and compassion. If that’s not in your make-up, this may not be the profession for you.”
More Contributions to Come
Daphne was “honored” to learn that she had been chosen as a PointClickCare Nurse of the Month. Looking ahead, she’s not going anywhere.
“In ten years, I expect to still be working in long-term care. Being part of these residents’ lives is huge – I definitely have more to give.”
Congratulations, Daphne! Here’s a final quote from your nominator that sums up the way you elevate the profession:
“She thinks outside the box and tries to find new ways to assist with our floor nurses and CNAs and to make their jobs easier. Daphne is a shining example for everyone who works for her or who is a co-worker to her.”