One leader at Parker has a uniquely well informed perspective on the activities of the nursing staff, because she’s worked in every possible nursing role. That person is Paula Royal, Director of Nursing for Parker at Landing Lane skilled nursing residence in New Brunswick.
Paula manages a nursing staff of 55 people. She oversees all staff, addresses resident concerns, and (with the nursing home administrator) serves as the primary clinical liaison with the Middlesex County Department of Health and the New Jersey Department of Health.
Paula began her career with Parker at River Road in 1982 as a CNA. After two years, she obtained a Licensed Practical Nurse degree (LPN) from Middlesex County Vocational School. Five years later, she went back to school at Raritan Valley Community College and obtained her Registered Nurse (RN) degree in 2000. She was appointed nurse manager at Parker at River Road in 2003 and in 2006 was promoted to director of nursing. In 2012, Paula obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from Kean University. The following year, she became board certified as a gerontological nurse by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
In the summer of 2014, Parker’s leaders asked Paula to apply her finely honed skills in another Parker location and she graciously agreed. Paula became director of nursing for Parker at Landing Lane.
One of the biggest challenges to Paula in her role as Director of Nursing is to staff the 3-11 pm shift, a difficult shift for women with families. Often, nurses and CNAs will take a job on that shift and then, when a position on the 8 am – 4 pm shift opens (at Parker or another home), they will leave to take the position with more regular hours. The 3-11 pm shift can sometimes require special skills from nurses and CNAs because of the “sun-downing” challenges experienced by people with dementia. As night sets in, people with dementia may get confused or anxious, thinking they must leave and go “home”; the nursing staff must exercise patience, creativity, and diplomacy to reassure the residents that they are in a place where they can feel safe and secure.
Given her impressive tenure at Parker, Paula has witnessed a great deal of growth in the organization and in the field of senior services. One thing that has changed during her time at Parker is the type of care sought and provided in nursing homes. In her experience, the residents’ acuity (level of care) and overall need for care has grown sharply. To address these more demanding situations, a nursing home requires more highly skilled staff and special accommodations. It is in these circumstances that Parker’s commitment to person-directed care makes all the difference.
“Paula is an important partner to me and a distinguished leader to her staff,” said Carol Burt, Senior Administrator of Parker’s nursing homes at Landing Lane and River Road. “Paula expertly guides the clinical care and person-directed decision-making that has the best interest of the residents at the core. She is a highly respected, knowledgeable and vital professional at Parker.”