Sometimes you just need to rock the boat!

By Leslie Quintanar

I’ve been writing posts for Senior Housing Forum for about 17 months now, and until 2 weeks ago I had never met Steve Moran. He and I had spoken over the phone and communicated via email, yet I had never seen him face-to face. So when I found out he would be speaking at CALA I was thrilled that I’d finally get to meet someone with whom I had been working for quite some time.

Brutally Honest

Let me explain why I was anticipating this meeting . . . After discovering my humble little blog on senior living with only a handful of followers, Steve saw something worth sharing. He found value in my passion for this vocation and he helped me further hone my craft to draw others into that world of seniors, which was and is full of life changing opportunities. I never wrote a blog before, which is quite different than other types of writing, and he helped me learn to trim things back and get to the point. But more than anything, he encouraged me to keep going. He encouraged me to keep writing from my perspective because he felt it was unique. He cheered me on in my quest to spread a devotional perspective on serving the senior population.

I met him prior to the session he did at CALA and it was like meeting an old friend. As I sat through his session on his project he did last year on touring various senior communities, I was struck by one overarching thing; he wasn’t afraid to be disruptive. As he shared his findings, he challenged the status quo of running a community and pointed out that what many of us think is happening in our communities, really isn’t.

One person was actually offended at his comments and she spoke out rather indignantly stating that this definitely wouldn’t be the case in her community. But the bottom line is that for all of us, even the best, we just don’t get it right all the time. And many of us don’t want to face that truth because it means that we might have to change. Change is hard. Yet Steve said it — he said it all and he didn’t make people feel warm and fuzzy. He didn’t give them a list of how to’s, or leave them with the latest research. He left them with a challenge to go back and look with different eyes at their communities. He challenged us to see that what is often accepted, shouldn’t be and to stop being complacent.

I found myself leaving that session feeling as though it was the most refreshing of the classes I attended. It offered a viewpoint not bound by a specific company, trade association affiliation, or community leader. Instead it was fresh, truthful, a bit challenging, and above all . . . honest.

Delightfully Irreverent

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see Jolene Brackey at a local dementia conference. Jolene is a speaker and author of “Creating Moments of Joy” — a book that has long been one of my favorite resources for dementia care.It is full of great stories, practical ways to care for the memory impaired, and — most importantly — it proposes that we really look beyond the disease to see the greatness of each individual.

It’s changed the way I viewed caring for those with the disease and I’ve recommended her book over and over again to many. So, like meeting Steve, my opportunity to see her “live” was quite thrilling.

She did not disappoint.

She was funny, engaged the crowd, used some off color language, and exuded an air of absolute commitment to being present in the moment. It was awe-inspiring. She was barefoot as she walked through the crowd, dressed in the decidedly non-business casual attire of a maxi dress and pullover; and she was mesmerizing. The way she so naturally demonstrated how to effectively connect with people to create moments of joy was so succinct and simple, yet something we so often miss.

She challenged us all to SEE our residents; not through the lenses of our policies and procedures, but through the lenses of who they really are; human beings in need of meaningful connections. Any of us who have been in senior living for any length of time know this intellectually; however, in practice, we fall far short. She was irreverent, unabashedly direct in her speech, and just like Steve, marvelously disruptive.

As I left the conference I found myself feeling thankful to have been exposed to these two remarkable souls within such a short time period. I found myself encouraged to soldier on in this industry where we all seem to do all the same things over and over again disguised in slightly different packages. I needed the marvelous disruption they both brought and I will take the nudge from them to seek to be a little more disruptive within my own sphere of influence for the good of each resident I serve.

Thank you Jolene and Steve for your contributions to the senior industry. Keep making waves and challenging the status quo with your marvelous disruptions!