Director of Staff Development Agnieszka Ostrowski, R.N.: Ensuring High Standards of Care

As the Director of Staff Education, Registered Nurse Agnieszka Ostrowski manages a dizzying array of regulations, protocols, and classes to ensure that every Noble team member adheres to the latest training and certification standards. During the pandemic, however, those demands have accelerated as new research around COVID-19 requires the daily implementation of new policies. Despite the continually evolving COVID-19 protocols, Agnieszka’s goal remains unchanged: to ensure that all Noble Horizons staff understand how to keep residents safe and healthy.

“Before coming to Noble I was a charge nurse and supervisor. Staff development and education was a new role for me and I love it,” says Agnieszka, “And it’s ongoing and constant, especially now during COVID-19.”

She monitors state, federal and OSHA regulations, and sets up staff training to keep the entire Noble team in compliance. “We use a tracking system called Relias to make sure all of us are up to date with our training. I am in constant touch with staff to keep them current so I can file these updates,” Agnieszka informs.

Before CNAs or Registered Nurses begin, they undergo 16 hours of training about Noble Horizons, its standards, expectations, and its culture of resident-centered care. All employees receive eight hours of dementia care training to understand the needs of this special population in Noble’s care.

One recently developed program of which she is especially proud is the free CNA training series that she oversees and delivers. Its premise is simple: people interested in becoming certified CNAs apply for the free program and all who complete the classes and pass the CNA test are offered a job at Noble Horizons. Although on hold now due to COVID-19, Agnieszka is eager to begin another series when possible as it enhances Noble’s recruitment of exceptional CNAs.    

All seven CNA’s out of the first two graduating classes were hired. “I fell in love with this program. To see the growth of the students and the results that their efforts produce is so satisfying. You could say that I’m strict but there are things they need to know, and I make sure they know them. I insist that they show me,” she asserts.

This show-and-tell approach to Agnieszka’s teaching and evaluation continues across the Noble campus. When she’s on the floors, which is often, she must be convinced that everyone is doing all they can to keep residents safe. In today’s environment, that’s in the details. “I need to be satisfied that everyone is practicing the most basic aspects of care. I want to see how they’re washing their hands and putting on and taking off PPE.”

For Agnieszka, communication is key, especially now with new regulations and standards being handed down daily from state and federal bodies. “We have three shifts every day that must be kept up to date through binders of information, email, and socially distanced face-to-face meetings. One person cannot do this alone. It has to come from the team. Everyone has to have the same information and be able to act on it,” she says in regard to keeping these high standards consistent across all areas of Noble.

This also extends to the daily directors meeting. “If I have a problem and no solution, I can call on my coworkers. I ask them, ‘What can we do?’ and with us all working together we come up with a response.”

While Agnieszka has left the role of charge nurse, she can find herself lending a hand on a floor during a busy time. Helping to feed a resident or responding to a call light from a room is part of her job. “In nursing, you can’t turn the other way if someone needs you,” she comments. For Agnieszka, it’s about demanding the highest standard of care and resident safety from Noble’s team, as well as herself.