03 May 2018

Challenging days bring out the best in Brookdale Divisional Clinical Services Specialist Jennifer Hlabse. Not only does she provide quality healthcare, you might find her dancing in the halls with residents or playing bingo. Caring for others means quality time with residents and encouraging colleagues.    

Bringing a sense of calm and compassion into every situation is second nature to her. “I’m a big believer in servant leadership and will do everything I can to help people succeed. My philosophy is that when I walk out of the community and residents are good, everything is groovy,” Jennifer explains.

The Cleveland, Ohio resident joined Brookdale a decade ago and worked her way up from second shift floor nurse in memory care to Resident Care Coordinator and then to Health & Wellness Director (HWD) protem, or temporary traveling assignments. Today, she serves multiple communities without an HWD, or trains new caregivers. Whatever issues arise, she deals with them.

Some might call her a fixer, or troubleshooter, but she is also an instructor and a caregiver. She often takes the corporate hat off and dives in, shocking some aides as to the depth of her care – she is known to handle every aspect of physical care that the youngest aide might provide. This visible servant leadership is in itself teaching others about resident and family customer service. “I will mop a floor, serve in the dining room or whatever needs doing. I work with teams, not lead teams. I put out the biggest fire first and then keep going until I make it better.” 

A good nurse, she explains from the perspective of a trainer, is compassionate. “It makes them a rock star. You can learn to be a nurse but you cannot learn compassion. It’s not about the education we all have, the degrees or letters. It’s about people skills and learning to be flexible.” She adds that new nurses have to be able to multi-task and learn not to take things personally. “The job comes with being overwhelmed and complained to every day – you have to take it one day at a time.”  

Jennifer loves working with elderly people, especially those with dementia. “It’s my niche, my calling. I meet needs that they can’t voice.” Her work is done in partnership with family members. “It’s important we don’t exclude family from what we do – it’s a partnership. They should never be surprised about what is happening – family should be part of it all along the way.” 

Nurse Appreciation Week is May 6-12, but Brookdale is celebrating a Culture of Wellness in a Clinical World all month. Read blogs from Kim Estes Elliott and Carol Cummings, plus meet Brookdale Health and Wellness Superstars at BrookdaleNews.com.

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