Envisioning the Future: Exploring Lessons Learned Symposium

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Cathy Lieblich

Cathy Lieblich, Director of Network Relations, Pioneer Network

Last Wednesday, a large group of pioneers gathered virtually to envision the future by exploring lessons learned, and no surprise to anyone, there have been a lot of lessons learned this past year!

The guides for our day-long journey shared facts, insights and inspiration to help guide us as we move forward to not only envision the future, but make it happen.

I personally soaked it all in, but learning is best shared, so I’d like to share a few of the many lessons I learned.

In the session, Adopting a WE CAN Attitude: What Each COVID Action Necessitates, with Dr. Stefan Gravenstein, I learned that:

  • The medical term for “long haulers,” those who have not fully recovered from COVID-19 weeks or even months after first experiencing symptoms, is “Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infections (PASC)” and 20-30% of them have experienced sudden improvement of their symptoms after being vaccinated.
  • As we continue to work to get team members vaccinated, we will continue to find those who are hesitant. Don’t make them feel bad, instead, perhaps you can have a physician/medical director available to answer questions.
  • There was a big bump in team members wanting the vaccine between the first and second doses as they saw how their colleagues did.
  • Even with something as serious as the pandemic, you can have some fun, as Dr. Gravenstein showed us when he modeled his “Vaccinated for You” mask and held up his matching Teddy Bear.

When Dr. Susan Wehry shared Lessons Learned from Life During a Pandemic: Looking Beyond Resilience, I learned that:

  • We need to remember that no one has been untouched by the pandemic experience. Many of us are exhausted, distracted, irritable, more short-tempered, and less empathic (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another).
  • Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and there are things you can do to become more resilient and to alleviate stressors. These include physical exercise, deep breathing, mindfulness practice, including practicing gratitude. A simple way to practice gratitude is to take a few moments at the end of the day to name three things that happened that day for which you are grateful.
  • A recent study showed that three strategies that are important for all of us to practice are self-care, care for staff and care for residents and families. This care should come from a place of empathy for what it has been like for them.
  • There is a tool called the (Post) Pandemic Personal Growth Inventory that can be used to do a self-assessment of areas of growth and change that happened for you as a result of the crisis.

Valuing CNAs: It’s More than Finding a Way to Get a Hot Pizza to the Night Shift! was a very lively session led by Lori Porter, CEO, National Association of Health Care Assistants and Jeff Jerebker, former owner, Pinon Management and a member of the Pioneer Network Council of Elders. In that session I learned that:

  • Working at a fast-food restaurant pays more but for most CNAs, their work is not a “job,” it’s a calling. They love the residents – and that is who they work for.
  • Only 6% of CNAs want to become nurses, while 34% want to be nursing home administrators. Most want to be career CNAs but there needs to be recognition for the important work they do by acknowledging that they are professionals as well as by increasing their wages and offering them benefits.
  • NAHCA is launching the National Institute for CNA Excellence (NICE) that will offer a full spectrum of education, training, and resources to address Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) recruitment, certification, placement, and professional development.
  • NAHCA is having a CNA Virtual March on Washington on April 7. There are nearly 900 CNAs and supporters registered for the event, and you can attend, too. Click here to sign up.

Many of us have read the book: The Return of Compassion to Health Care, by Vivian Tellis-Nayak and Mary Tellis-Nayak, and so it was a joy learning more from Mary about The Art of Compassionate Leadership. Here’s some of what I learned:

  • Leaders need to create a compassionate culture, and they can do this by showing appreciation, leading by example, responding with authenticity (listening to team member’s concerns and helping them grow), empowering the team to take care of business and carry out the vision.
  • It pays to be kind! There is a study that found that organizations characterized by higher levels of compassion (and other virtuous behaviors, like forgiveness) increased performance, innovation, customer retention, profitability, and quality. They also had considerably less employee turnover.
  • The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley has a website with quizzes that you can take including Happiness at Work, Empathy, Compassionate Organizations, and others.
  • People can learn how to be compassionate. Mediation is one way, and you can also learn from Loving Kindness Meditation.

At the end of the day, I was exhausted, but it was a good exhaustion! My head was full of ideas about how to take the many lessons learned that day and throughout the pandemic and share them with others, and more importantly, how to put them into action as I work with others to envision the future.

Thanks for letting me share with you. Now it’s your turn. Pioneer Network invites you to share the lessons you have learned, and how they will help you envision the future.

4 comments on “Envisioning the Future: Exploring Lessons Learned Symposium

  1. Donna K Woodward on

    Cathy, this is a wonderful wrap on a great day! Thank you so much for your thought-provoking comments and for adding value with these insights and information. E.g., “People can learn how to be compassionate.” i needed this!

    What I learned/took away that is important to me: hearing about the NICE program and the April 7th Virtual March on Washington. Hearing that people (Lori) are creating ways to improve CNAs’ career opportunities in a way that doesn’t mean that CNAs need to move out of the jobs they love. CNAs should not be required to leave the valuable work they do, and love, to gain more recognition and better wages in some ‘higher’ job title.


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