Eliminate the Get Ups!

Eliminate the Get Ups!

Do you know what a “get up” is?

It’s the compassionless phrase many staff members in aging services use to describe the people that are woken up before they really want to be.

Over the years, I have met with thousands of staff members and unfortunately have heard the phrase “get ups” used more often than you would imagine.

As if it isn’t bad enough we are disrespecting people by forcing them to wake up, I have heard as early as 4:30 AM, but then we further demean them by referring them to as a “get-up”?


In all fairness, the people that have shared this with me are saddened by what they are forced to do. 

The “get ups” are miserable, the staff are miserable. This is one of those times when you step back, look at the insanity the world of long-term care has created and think “Why?”

So how do you begin to tackle this issue that plagues not only skilled nursing communities, but assisted living communities as well?

  1. Look for what is going well! Chances are that staff are already successfully accommodating some residents’ choices. What can be learned from these positive examples and how can the lessons be applied it to other residents?
  2. Uncover the opportunities! Staff members do not want to force residents to wake up. They feel have no choice. Find out why. What are the processes standing in the way?
  3. Empower and support the staff closest to the residents!  The thought of accommodating the preferences of all residents around what time they wake up can seem impossible for staff. However, many communities around the nation will tell you it is not only possible, but a necessary step towards person-directed care.

Eliminate the “get ups”!

Allowing residents to choose their preferred waking times each day is just the beginning of the shift to a culture in which choices are invited and honored. The team members closest to the residents need to be empowered and supported in this shift, not presented with changes in policy and procedure that they had no part in creating.

As a staff member enters their room, imagine each sleeping resident thinking the following words from Dr. Seuss:

“Please let me be.

Please go away.

I am NOT going to get up today!”

So get up!  Get out there! Make a difference in the lives of your residents and staff!


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