How Hot is your Jalapeño?

During one of my Now What? Workshops, a participant shared this story.

They had given a copy of Now What? to a new residents’ daughter and son on admission.

About a week later, the daughter called the Administrator and said “I just finished reading the book. I realize that I’m a Jalapeno. So if and when I have a Jalapeno episode, just call my brother and he’ll straighten me out.

The daughter and administrator actually shared a few laughs over this conversation.

They were able to connect with shared language, and with a topic that is typically avoided – the “difficult” family (aka Jalapeno) that I refer to in the book as one of three family flavours homes can experience.

The Jalapeno’s are the families your staff will avoid making eye contact with, or will duck into a resident’s room or turn around and quickly walk (or run) the other way so they don’t have to have a conversation (or confrontation) with them.

As our call continued, one of the Administrators (who has worked in LTC for 25+ years) shared that she had just become a family member with her grandmother.

After reading Now What? she realized that she had “Jalapeno potential” as she has now stepped into the resident’s family member role.

And like me, she understood the business of seniors’ care while having new awareness about how she could likely show up as a family member. And she’s had lots of experience being on the other end of the Jalapeño relationship as an Administrator in a home! I was so curious to hear more about her epiphany and how we could all learn from it.

I asked her “what would make you get all spicy and Jalapeno as your grandmother’s family member and advocate?”

She replied “Personal care. If her hair and teeth aren’t brushed, that’s really going to annoy me”.

Great! We have identified a hot button, or a “Jalapeno trigger” of what’s really important to her. For other families, that may not be an issue.

The opportunity here is to clarify with your families what’s most important to them. What could trigger them into a Jalapeno popper moment?

When you provide Now What? to your families to read, this is just one benefit you can gain which is to have a common language to discuss important topics in a more relational way.


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