When you feel that you have not been treated with respect or dignity, core values at Charlestown both for employees and residents, or things don’t go the way you want them for whatever reason, the best way to find a satisfactory resolution to the problem is to state the problem, express your feelings, and ask for action. But to whom?
First, we need to address the issue directly with the person involved honestly without an accusatory attitude, expressing the complaint or desire in specific terms. Unfortunately, many persons complain to their friends, neighbors, family, or those that “take their side” but who have no power to change the situation or solve the problem. When we feel the situation is out of our control, anger seems to be the reaction many have. Of course, our emotions take over thus detrimentally getting in the way of solving the issue. Some of us deal with anger by saying nothing or sulking, while others yell at the other person or speak to them in an accusatory manner. This will likely push that person’s “hot button” perhaps making them think to themselves, “This person is questioning my intelligence/ability/commitment, etc.”. This tends to escalate the situation, not fix it. Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics defined the challenge of dealing with emotions: “For in everything it is no easy task to find the middle … anyone can get angry—that is easy….but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for everyone, nor is it easy.” How to regain our composure so as to deal with the issue in a rational manner requires a bit of thought. Try to temporarily suspend judgment. Express how you feel in a compassionate way and then state what you would like the outcome to be. Perhaps the other person was having a bad day or didn’t feel well or other reason for their unwanted action.
Okay, so you spoke directly with the person and the outcome was unsatisfactory. The next person to contact is dependent on whether the person with whom a conflict occurs is an employee or a fellow resident. For instance, you are unhappy with the way something was not satisfactorily installed in your apartment and you ask for it to be corrected and the employee doing the installation says: ‘Well, I’ve done many of these and that’s the way it’s done’. You are not satisfied with the answer so, in this case, you would contact their supervisor for resolution. Another example, a resident who repeatedly doesn’t cover their nose when wearing their mask and after being reminded to do so a couple of times, gets belligerent or just ignores you. You are concerned that this situation puts you at risk of infection. In that case, the go-to persons at Charlestown Independent Living are the Resident Coordinators. They are here to support us in any way they can, be it talking to the resident at fault, helping you with any concerns you may have, and/or to whom you can address any issues that they cannot resolve. In the Continuing Care units, the Nurse Supervisor or Managers are the go-to persons.
If neither of them can help, then contact a member of the Residents’ Council in Independent Living or the Continuing Care Administrator. By this time, your problem should be resolved. If not, Charlestown Administration will get involved and take it from there. None of us get what we want all the time and complaining, especially about health care, can be daunting to some but you may be pleasantly surprised that a simple two-way cordial conversation may be the ticket to a quick fix.
Maria “Merci” Izquierdo-Whitaker
Chair, Health Services Committee