EP 87 Senior Care Industry NetCast with Phyllis Ayman, Author 3

So my latest book, my third, Dignity & Respect: Aging Parents Getting What They Deserve was published December 5th. And one day later it became a number one new release on Amazon, so that is pretty exciting.

Phyllis Ayman

This is Valerie VanBooven with the Senior Care Industry Net Cast, where leaders with three or more years of experience in the senior care market share their advice. We are rejoined today by Phyllis Ayman And she is going to tell us who she is and what she does. She’s going to give us that recap, but she has some exciting news to share with us. So take it away, Phyllis.

Phyllis Ayman:

Oh, thanks so much, Valerie. It’s so great to be here with you again. So yes, I’ll talk about what I do first and then I’ll talk about the exciting news just to how you introduced it. So I’m an elder care advisor, advocate, a family care strategist and family care mediator. So I help families and individuals become more informed and effective advocates for their loved one’s care. I do this because I’ve spent, well, 45+ years as a speech and language pathologist working in now about 50 nursing homes. So I certainly come with a very inside perspective on what people need to know, why they need to know it, what questions to ask, why they should be asking those questions and more importantly, what are the answers that they should be getting that would ensure that their loved one gets better care.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Very nice. And I know that you have years and years of amazing experience with all of this, and we will make sure that all of your contact information, your LinkedIn and everything you’re about to talk about is with that, so folks can look you up and know more about you.

Phyllis Ayman:

Great.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Tell us about your exciting news.

Phyllis Ayman:

Right. So my latest book, my third, Dignity & Respect: Aging Parents Getting What They Deserve was published December 5th. And one day later it became a number one new release on Amazon, so that is pretty exciting.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, it’s very exciting. Awesome.

Phyllis Ayman:

I had a press release go out about the book and actually it was picked up by 1,780 news outlets around the country and this I didn’t share with you. It turns out that I know a Brazilian journalist and it was featured all over the country of Brazil from North to South and East to West, so that’s pretty exciting stuff.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes.

Phyllis Ayman:

Yeah. And I also want to mention, I don’t know if I mentioned this when I was on a last time, but I have a podcast and it’s called Seniors Straight Talk on the Voice America Empowerment Channel, but why I’m mentioning it particularly now, because I mentioned Brazil is that we have a collaborative partner and it’s the global organization called the Pass It On Network, which is an organization in 70 countries, made up of thought leaders and advocates that are advocating for quality care, quality life, an improved life and about ageism and counteracting the effects of ageism around the world. So they are collaborative partners with me now on the podcast. So I’m very proud to be working with them and we continue as you do, bringing informative conversations, important information that people need to know.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So now you’re an international superstar. That’s awesome. I am so glad that things are going really well. I want to ask you a few more questions about your new book, if that’s okay.

Phyllis Ayman:

Yeah, please.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

First question is what was the catalyst behind writing your third book? I know that’s not a small task, trust me.

Phyllis Ayman:

No, it’s not.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Was it the pandemic? Did you have a lot of time? Was it something you’ve been wanting to do for a while? What was the catalyst?

Phyllis Ayman:

Well, interestingly enough, I did want to write a third book, but it was in elder care, but it wasn’t this topic and it wasn’t now. And what happened was when you talk about having time on your hands, because a lot of us are spending more time at home, I was watching a webinar from a publisher because I had a book of his and I was just interested to find out what he had to say and he was talking about launching a previous book. And I started thinking about that and I said, “Well, that’s an interesting prospect.” But then I thought, I had been working in nursing homes during COVID as a speech pathologist. I was called to cover in a few places. And that experience was really extraordinary. And I said, “You know what? Rather than relaunching a book, why don’t start the story?”

Phyllis Ayman:

Even though it’s not a story per se like a novel, but start from that point and go forward with how we’re caring for and treating our older adults, because obviously the COVID situation has really highlighted what’s been happening not only in nursing homes, but for older people in our communities who are isolated and don’t have the contact that they need to have really in order to continue to thrive, so that was the impetus.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s awesome. This really has shed a lot of light on what’s what’s going on with our senior population. Those who are the frailest, those who are the in need of the most resources sometimes fall through the cracks and maybe more often than we realized. So this is definitely been an eye opener in lots of areas of senior care and aging. Tell us what are some of the things or some of the chapters or some of the things that folks will learn when they read your book.

Phyllis Ayman:

Right. So, as I said, it starts with COVID, but I talk a lot about isolation and loneliness. Even though people are in a nursing home or in an environment where they’re surrounded by other people, very often people are isolated. I don’t only mean because of the COVID situation and not being able to be in touch with their families and loved ones, but even in the buildings themselves, people very often don’t have the interaction they really need to have in order to thrive in a more social way. So I talk about isolation and loneliness beyond just that family interaction. Also, the importance of the healthcare worker, and how they really are not valued to the degree that they should be, especially certified nurse aids who do 90% of the care for people in nursing homes and are the least paid and often the least respected.

Phyllis Ayman:

But they do the lion’s share of the work. So I talk about healthcare workers and respect for them as well, dignity and respect for our healthcare workers. About person centered care, what that really means and how leaders really should think about their staff and their person centered approach to their leadership with their staff. Because if people feel valued, they in turn will help translate that value to the people they care for. So I talk about that and I go on to talk about agesim. The last two chapters really focused on ageism. What are really our attitudes towards people that are older? And what are people’s attitudes about their own aging and how does that start? And how can we address that, to change that so that people aren’t disrespected or have a life that’s less dignified than they deserve. So those are the chapters that I really cover.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Amazing. So I’m going to have to get a copy because all of that peaks my interest as a healthcare professional. And would you say that folks who would be interested in this book can be consumers or healthcare professionals?

Phyllis Ayman:

Absolutely. Absolutely. People have asked me, what’s my target audience. That’s always a question, what’s your target audience? And you talk about a demographic, an age group, let’s say 40 and above, baby boomers, older people. But the reality is that everyone is affected by this in some way or another. I’ve done many presentations on caregiving and I start my presentations in one of two ways. Sometimes I ask who here has been caring for an older parents or who has an older parent, or has concerns about an older parent or knows somebody.

Phyllis Ayman:

That those are my first few questions, but sometimes I start with the question and I tell people that they’re going to think this question is funny or silly, but there’s a reason for the question. How many people here have had parents or have parents? Well, none of us would be here if it wasn’t for that situation, so then I go on from there. So in reality, it’s really for everybody because it’s our future. Our future.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I would say, I mean, when you talk about a younger demographic, if someone’s in college right now and they’re studying to be a social worker, a registered nurse, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, any of those professions, this would be a really good time to understand more about our current world and our current situation.

Phyllis Ayman:

Right. Also, I’m just going to interject, if you don’t mind for a moment, that I’ve been reaching out to programs that have masters in public health or public policy, because these are areas that really are to be thought about. It’s not just about understanding the policy or understanding the regulations and the areas that need looking into, or that we need to look into in order to make improvements for the care of our older people in our lives or running a hospital whatever that ministrative role is. But what are the underlying issues that really inform those positions that you really need to address. Being a leader what are those? And what better way to hear from somebody who’s lived it. That’s my idea. I’m in touch with many thought leaders.

Phyllis Ayman:

I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to make those connections and that we have the kinds of dialogues that we do. I think what I bring to the table that is different is that I do have the experience. It’s like hitting the button on a search engine to look for something but then talking to somebody who has that experience, it brings it to life in a different way. So the passion I have for it is because I’ve lived it and that comes through and it presents it a little differently, I think then just studying a book about the areas of healthcare that need to be addressed kind of thing.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I totally agree with you. And I would also say to go back to your point about leadership. Every nursing home, every assisted living facility, independent living community, home healthcare agency, home care agency, private duty, whatever they are, the way those clients are cared for absolutely, 100% comes from the top down.

Phyllis Ayman:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And without good leadership in that role and not every business owner is meant to be a great leader in that specific role and not every leader is meant to be a business owner. So having said that, I think reading something like this and taking a look at me as a leader, or me as a business owner with my director of nursing over here, who is the leader, or is the leader, or my licensed nursing home administrator who’s the leader. When you take a look at that and you read a book like this, it’ll give you, I think, it sounds to me like a lot more insight into what can we change culturally and from the top down to make sure those aides to reduce our turnover, to make sure they feel respected and dignified themselves so that our clients and so everyone feels respected with dignity, living with dignity.

Phyllis Ayman:

Because everybody needs that. It’s a basic human need. I don’t think leaders think about that. I don’t think people think about that even in terms of the people that they’re caring for. We all have basic human needs. I talk about that in the book also, the need for security, for love, for being a part of a community, for relationships, for affection, for comfort, for safety. We all have those needs. For purpose. And I don’t think we think about older adults necessarily as needing all of those things.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. And I don’t know that we think from day to day as we look at our nurses aides running around and doing baths, [crosstalk 00:14:02] out of chairs and into bed and out of bed. I don’t think we look at them and think to ourselves, and I know everybody’s busy and it’s crazy, and it’s a busy morning, but every single person in that facility, no matter why they’re there working or living there, they need to feel dignified and respected.

Phyllis Ayman:

Correct.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

[crosstalk 00:14:23] in this industry right now, we’re talking a lot about challenges with recruiting. Challenges with turnover, and in some cases about the money, don’t get me wrong. But in a lot of cases, when I talk to a home care agency owner, for instance, who takes the role of, and I don’t mean to belittle this or their role, but a house mother, like someone who’s very mothering and caring to their caregivers, those people don’t leave her for $0.25 more somewhere else because they love her.

Phyllis Ayman:

Absolutely. I talk about this story in this book, a nursing home I worked in many years ago. And the owner, the owner, not the administrator. The administrator, he didn’t really have much of a personality, that was just my assessment, just an armchair assessment. Maybe it was me, I don’t know. Maybe we just didn’t click. But anyway, the owner four times a week would come and do rounds on every unit in the building. And I watched him once because he came up and he asked me who I was. It was the first time he saw me, nobody had ever done that. What I did there, what my role was. Welcomed me. I was amazed, it was a beautiful thing. And I watched him and subsequently I would watch him, he knew all the names of all the people who worked there.

Phyllis Ayman:

He would ask them, “Gee, how was your son’s graduation? How’s your mother doing? How was your vacation?” And he knew the residents also. And needless to say, just as you’ve said, people were very loyal to him because they felt that they mattered to him. Whether they did or not, well, I think it was genuine because if it’s not genuine, people can sense that. And he did this four days a week, every single week. That’s what this man did. And when I finally decided to leave there, I told him that I was sorry to leave him. And he was the owner, not the administrator and he said, he knew that. It was really something to work there. I left there because they brought in a new director of rehabilitation and that was a whole other story.

Phyllis Ayman:

And so, I decided to move on because of the philosophy that was going to change. But I was really sorry to leave that man. I had the opportunity to see him about a year and a half, no, a year ago. I was doing a presentation at a company that he’s now part of, they own many nursing homes. I was so thrilled to see this man. You would think that I saw my long lost relative. I’ve talked about him for years and I wrote about him in this book, actually, about leadership.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes.

Phyllis Ayman:

Because that is a leadership style. It’s management by walking around, it’s not walking around aimlessly, it has a purpose. And I don’t think people realize that. I’ve seen too many people, administrators, director of nurses who just sit in their office and don’t do much. I mean, not that they don’t do much, they don’t have much interaction with the staff. I don’t mean they don’t do much. Oh, please, let me correct that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I know, I know, I know. They are busy, but there’s also a business/personal component to this where you are very much in touch with the folks that work with you and they’re challenges and helping them overcome them. So we go on and on and I talk to folks daily about this challenge with recruiting and this challenge with turnover and not all of it can be solved by just being a very nice person. But I will say the agencies, the assisted living facilities, the nursing homes that have the least amount of challenges, they’ll still have challenges, but the least amount are the ones who take this role of being very much a carer of how people feel and what they’re doing and how can I help you with that? And you can’t solve every problem for everybody, but to at least express that you are interested in what’s happening in their life.

Phyllis Ayman:

Not to interrupt, but a thought just came to me that another role that leaders can take on is that of being a mentor. Think of yourself as a mentor. How you can help shape people’s lives even if they’re just maintaining that role, that position in your facility, in your building, how can you help shape their lives during that period of time? Because that’s really what you’re doing. It’s not really just a fee for service kind of thing. Like a transaction. I think a lot of people think of people who work in their buildings as a transaction, you work for me, I pay you, and it’s a transactional relationship. But maybe if they could think beyond that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes, absolutely.

Phyllis Ayman:

That could change the dynamic.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes, and I would honestly say, I can remember from being a young nurse, if someone came to me and said, an inexperienced registered nurse, but still only 21 years old, 22 years old, if someone came to me and said something nice, or just asked me a question like, “I hope you’re doing good today. How’s the day going? Is there anything I can help you with?” I am going to turn around whether I realize it or not, because as a young person, you’re not as intuitive, I don’t think sometimes about how someone else’s words affect the rest of your day, I’m much more likely to be a better advocate and steward of my patient’s needs because someone was actually nice to me. So this whole thing, and I’m so glad you did this and wrote this book, because I think from our human interactions to honoring our seniors, to honoring our staff, there’s so much interrelated there that can help everybody.

Phyllis Ayman:

Absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And it just really does shine through in some of these facilities when their caregivers are also cared for.

Phyllis Ayman:

Right. And there are places that are doing a better job and are trying, I’d say the greater number are not because I read Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. And after I read it, I mean, obviously I knew what my why was, but I didn’t think about it in the [foreign language 00:21:13] maybe. And I think that people who, and you can’t legislate this, you can’t change this, but it depends what the why is. And I think that that may be some of the root of some of the issues here. I can’t tell people what their why should be, nobody can tell another person what their why should be. But that why, it’s counter intuitive to the business of caring for people. It’s like an oxymoron in a way.

Phyllis Ayman:

I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be a business or it shouldn’t be profitable. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is, but what is the root why of why you’re doing this? And if people could really look inside themselves and find the caring part, I think that would translate into how a staff is cared for, treated, the environment that’s created for them. I think it would translate into how residents are cared for, how they feel about the environment they’re living in. I think it all has to come together in that way.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I totally agree with you. This is can be complicated, but it is all encompassing in the world of senior care from the top down. And I think it’s important that consumers understand a lot about this as well, whether they are an aging adult or they have aging parents, which some of us absolutely are in that place, or grandparents. I think it’s important for a whole set of folks to understand more about what happens as we age and some of the changes we could make to make things better.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And if nothing, we all talk about how 2020 wasn’t a great year, but it sure has taught us a lot of lessons. A lot of change for the better my hope is will come from that. We should never forget some of the tragedy and some of the lessons that we’ve learned. There’s a lot of things that happen in our lifetime that we should never forget, events and tragedies and things like that this year or that year should have taught us a lot about our aging population and what we could do better on the whole.

Phyllis Ayman:

Absolutely. I agree. I agree.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Thank you for writing the book and thank you for coming back on the show and sharing [crosstalk 00:23:46]. We’ll make sure everything is with this video so that folks can order it and I’ll be ordering a copy for myself and a couple of friends today.

Phyllis Ayman:

Thanks. And I just want to mention one other thing, if that’s okay. There is so many people that are struggling during this period of time, right? They need resilience and strategies to be resilient. I actually wrote a course. I talk about it in the book too, but I wrote a course called Resilience Toolbox Secrets: How To Overcome Overwhelm, Burnout & Stress, it’s on my website, www.phyllisayman&associates.com. But I also want to say, as a person who was working in nursing homes during COVID, that wearing PPE, the stress, the anxiety, the worry you have for the people you’re caring for, the worry for yourself and for your families, it really can become devastating in a way.

Phyllis Ayman:

I was speaking with a gal yesterday who was telling me how anxious she is. And so, people really need to do something to exercise self care even if it’s five minutes a day or five minutes twice a day, there are simple things people can do. So I urge them to do whatever they can for their own resilience so that they can continue in whatever they have to do and with the challenges we’re all facing.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. It’s a good time to practice some deep breathing, maybe a little meditation or yoga.

Phyllis Ayman:

Even gratitude, even something simple like gratitude for something great that happened in your day and an attitude of gratitude for something that you’re going to find in your day and look forward to in the day ahead with some deep breathing, I think, is a great strategy.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes, and those little celebrations mean a lot to up here.

Phyllis Ayman:

And it’s simple and it doesn’t take a lot of time, but the value you get from it is exponentially so much greater.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much, Phyllis. We appreciate you coming on the show and we will make sure everybody gets the good word. Thank you.

Phyllis Ayman:

Thanks an awful lot Valerie. Take care and I hope to see you again soon. Take it easy. Have a good one.