I will spend much of this week deeply immersed in how to make person centered care culture change happen here at the Pioneer Network annual convention. Highlights in words and photos.

Opening words from the Pioneer Network annual convention in Bellevue Washington.  What is sobering though is the unspoken completion of that sentence which might go something like this:  

Elders can be powerful  . . . but most of the time they are not, because we as care givers create roadblocks to that power.

So much of what senior services and senior communities do is about mitigating risk for seniors which at first glance seems to be a noble goal.  The problem is that in mitigating risk we end up telling seniors they have no value to society and are incompetent when it comes to controlling their own lives.  While I will write more extensively about a number of these topics in the coming weeks, here are some random first impressions and some photographs.  As the week goes on, I will update both the photos and reflections on the conference in this article:   Monday Tuesday, August 13, 14

  • It is weird and disconcerting.
  • At a very real level Pioneer Network is this living breathing thing that is all about skilled nursing, assisted living and elder care.  On the surface it seems to be just another part of the big picture of senior housing, but it is not.  There is this huge disconnect with the “for profit” world and the mainstream not-for-profit world.  In knocking around the event these past two days, I have connected with both for profit and not for profit operators, but those who have a person centered care mentality are somehow just barely connected with more traditional providers.
  • Another example:  Please understand this is not an ego thing:  As I go around the country attending senior living events, a large percentage of people I talk to have read and heard about Senior Housing Forum.  This is not true at Pioneer Network.  There are some, but not many.  The people here look at the world very differently and hear different voices.  The read and pay attention to different things.  I am unwilling to call this either good or bad, because in truth the for-profit and traditional not-for-profits could learn some amazing stuff from the person centered care gang. 
  • It is also true that the Pioneer Network people have a strong bias against people who make money. It makes no sense, because ownership structure should count for nothing.  Only quality of life should count.  In reality this is not true.
  • Another myth:  Person centered care costs more money . . . well ok, maybe in the the short-term implementation phase it does, but long term.  I am convinced that a person centered care approach will result in lower costs and higher occupancy levels.
  • Midnight Tuesday, more I would like to write but need sleep.

  Sunday, August 12

  • It was a great first day.  Making the beginnings of new friendships, seeing old friends like Denise Scott and meeting face-to-face readers, phone and email acquaintances.
  • The opening afternoon/evening was part like going to church, part like going to a political convention, and part like going to an Amway rally (at least what I envision an Amway rally looking like) topped off with 200+ new comers forming a big circle around the ballroom and doing the hokey pokey.
  • “Risk taking is a part of life.”
  • Creating a healthy senior living environment is about building community which means that seniors, caregivers, families and management need to really get to know each other.  This means more than staff knowing a few facts about the residents, like what their favorite color is, or that they don’t like broccoli.
  • Culture change is about creating a place where elders want to live, people want to work and families love to visit.
  • We need to be able to teach CMS what is right and good for seniors; what works.
  • What is lacking in single generation senior living communities is that it is not real life. 
  • There is more to life than the next ice cream social, movie night or birthday party.
  • Elders can continue to contribute to society.
  • Programs are not real life.  Real life consists of surprises, hope, setbacks, affirmations and struggles.

Most sobering of all is how on one hand, culture change/person centered care is so simple and yet so overwhelmingly challenging.  As I wandered around meeting new people and asking them to tell me their stories, their tales and experiences in effecting culture change, it was clear that that while they have accomplished much there is so much more than can and must be done.  Sunday photos