Employee Engagement Committee Drives Change

Updated: 1/11/2011

A Look Inside One of ’America’s Best Nursing Homes’


The DeGraff Memorial Skilled Nursing Facility Employee Engagement Committee. Front Row (L to R): Cindy Parlato, Mary Burgio, and Rebecca Tyson. Back Row (L to R): Marguerite Ives, Jacqueline Sayeta, Chantal Sommerville, and Danielle Brodfuehrer. Not Pictured: Eric Eberwein and Richard Rosenthal

It’s a concept that Kaleida Health has been striving to achieve: employee engagement that ultimately leads to patient satisfaction.  DeGraff Memorial’s Skilled Nursing Facility is proof that this concept is an attainable, award-winning combination.

Last January the facility ranked among "America’s Best Nursing Homes" by US News & World Report.  Now they have achieved the 2011 "Great American Nursing Home Award" by AdvisorMed.  DeGraff Skilled Nursing ranks within the top tier nationwide, and they are part of an elite group of nursing homes that consistently exceeds their residents’ expectations.

The awards come as little surprise to some DMH SNF staff.  When asked her thoughts about the 2011 Great American Nursing Home award, Mary Burgio, health information clerk, responded, "I always knew we were."  Betty Jo Becker, clinical dietitian, echoed, "We are a close-knit community."

But what is the facility’s secret to achieving two national awards and exceeding residents’ expectations?  It is due in large part to the facility’s employee engagement committee.  Christina Khushalani, DMH SNF director and committee facilitator, explained the importance of the engagement committee.  "The major reason employees stay in our line of work is job satisfaction and knowing that they are making a difference," she said.  "We’ve come quite far in the last year."

The purpose of the committee is to bring together staff from different shifts, departments and levels of experience.  The idea is that the committee, who after speaking with other staff, would be the voice of change.  During meetings, committee members discuss employee suggestions, and feedback is reported to management.

The committee, in partnership with management, is the driving force for changes at the facility such as shift changes, increased communication between shifts, creating an employee suggestion box, employee of the month recognitions, dress down day and interior renovations.  According to committee members, the changes have positively affected employee morale.  Not surprisingly, resident morale improved, too!

"This is our residents’ home.  The goal is to move away from institution to person-centered," Christina said.  And the committee is not only making that possible, but it is also paving the way to being more engaged-employee centered.

Engaged staff.  Satisfied residents.  Award-winning facility.  Kaleida Health role model.