In conducting the interviews for our upcoming book, many of the senior leaders talked about the importance of their organizations’ values in shaping the culture. These leaders use the values in recruiting and hiring new employees. Reward and recognition reflect and reinforce the values. The personal actions of the senior leaders demonstrate to the rest of the organization – and to customers and suppliers, too – their commitment to making these values the foundation for a culture of excellence.
While many of the words used by organizations for their values are the same or similar, how those values are demonstrated is often unique. One of those values that I often see is “respect.” I had the privilege of witnessing this value being demonstrated in a very heartfelt way on my first visit to Maine Veterans Home (MVH) – Scarborough. https://mainevets.org/locations-2/scarborough/
MVH-Scarborough sets a high standard for everything they do. Their commitment to excellence resulted in their recent recognition as the first Maine center to earn the prestigious Gold Award from the AHCA/NCAL Quality Program.
Until a few years ago, when a resident passed at Scarborough, they were taken out the back door to avoid “upsetting” the other residents. However, what the residents told the senior leaders was that they were aware when a fellow resident passed, and they thought it was not respectful to have a Veteran enter the center through the front door and lobby only to be ushered out through a back door at the end of life. Thus began the tradition known as the Final Farewell.
When a resident passes at MVH-Scarborough, the news is communicated quietly throughout the home. After the funeral home director has arrived, the resident’s body is placed on a wheeled platform and draped with an American flag. Every staff member who is available and many of the residents line the hallway in silence. As the flag-draped platform passes through the hall, staff place their hands over their hearts. Fellow Veterans want to stand to salute even when this is a challenge, so staff members look out for residents who have difficulty and stand next to them to prevent any falls. And then everyone follows outside until the body has been placed in the hearse, and it leaves. This procession outside happens rain, shine, or the bitter cold of a Maine winter.
In the many times I’ve been at Scarborough, I’ve witnessed the Final Farewell a few times. I’ve seen family members and staff members holding each other and crying quietly, but it has always been an amazing demonstration of the MVH value of respect, respect for their Veteran residents.
What are your organization’s values? How do you personally demonstrate them in a way that reflects the culture you are trying to achieve?