Gift-giving is an important part of the holiday season. Our society places a huge importance on gift-giving, and we all understand that gifts are a great way to show gratitude, friendship, and appreciation. However, senior living facilities need to be mindful of the unique dynamic between senior residents and the employees that serve them when creating a holiday gifting policy.
Seniors are one of the easiest populations to exploit, and if done incorrectly, holiday gift-giving at senior living facilities can turn a sweet tradition into a public relations nightmare. Senior residents may suffer from memory loss, or may not fully understand their financial situation. Further, even if residents are fully cognizant of their financial situation and have sharp memories, an inappropriate gift-giving policy may make senior residents feel pressured to give gifts to the employees that are responsible to their care, and that they have to see every day. All of these factors should be taken into consideration when creating a gift-giving policy, and a facility’s gift-giving policy should be communicated to employees throughout the year (not just during the holiday season), and strongly enforced.
Some senior living facilities ban individual gifts and instead collect money for an employee holiday bonus pool. Other facilities place a limit on the amount or type of gifts residents are allowed to give, or permit cards, but nothing else, to be given. Some seniors will feel stifled by restrictive policies. A good work around is organize a crafting event during the holiday season where residents can work together to make small tokens of appreciation for staff. Whatever policy a facility chooses should effectively protect seniors from purposeful and accidental exploitation.