Growing Person-Centeredness by Growing Your Network

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Joan Devine

Reflections from Joan Devine, Director of Education, Pioneer Network

Absolutes…we know that in this world, there are none! Certainly, for those of us who have been working to change the culture of aging, we quickly came to that conclusion — that our world is not black and white, it is grey. And yet, we keep trying to simplify that world by defining that one way to see or do things.

But we know better. We have figured out that we can’t generate a “10 Step Process for Culture Change in LTC,” or the “Ultimate Guide to Providing Person-Centered Care and Services.”

There’s a reason for this — and in a nut shell — it’s because it’s just not that simple, our world is not that simple. There are too many variables, and as they say, the paradigm is always shifting.

So how do we deal with this? Yes, we do need to develop expertise on all the issues that impact our ability to provide person-centered care. We need to recognize that yes, we need to have policies and procedures, as well as processes and systems, they are key to framing our passion in a way that can support the work we do. But then, we need to understand that even with the most carefully executed of these, they are not perfect and will not support every variable that we deal with. After all, we are dealing with people, with living, growing things, not widgets. Like the gardener who has followed every step to the letter to ensure a bumper crop, nature has a way of throwing the unexpected at us, and we need to be agile enough to adapt.

So what can we do? Well, I think the first thing to do is to accept this reality! Doing so will provide us with clearer vision to see our successes, even the small ones, and to understand that the failures are just part of the journey, that we can learn from them and then move on.

After that, I think a key is to grow our networks. Seek out like-minded people, smart and innovative individuals, and then connect with them. Read their blogs, check out their websites, visit their organizations, become friends on social media — and find opportunities to hear their stories at conferences and other networking events.

So am I going to tell you the very best place to make this happen is by coming to the Pioneering a New Culture of Aging Conference this August in Louisville. Well, yes, I am! I have seen the depth of the speakers and the presentations that will be a part of this year’s conference, and all I can say is wow, there is so much we can learn from all of them!

It’s not about one idea or one way to nurture and grow a person-centered culture change — it’s a lot of different ways. YOU get to decide which one fits your culture, and all you have to do is have an open mind, REALLY listen and then be willing to take the leap and try.

Now that I am done sharing my thoughts, would like to end my blog by telling you what inspired this blog — it was by reading the words of someone I truly admire who I have met on my journey, Sonya Barsness. Sonya identifies herself as a Revisionary Gerontologist, and if you have never read her blog, Being Heard, you are missing out on some great insight! It was her blog from March 22 (yes, I too am behind on my reading!) that inspired my current train of thoughts. What she wrote was a blog about “Both/And” as it relates to growing older. There is good and bad, loss and gain, but through it all there is still the opportunity of living with meaning. Sonya offers some great insight that I believe will inspire you as much as it inspired me – but don’t take my word for it, check in out!

And so, I invite you to follow my lead and make networking a key part of your personal culture change journey.  Meet new people, be open to new ideas, accept that there can be, as Sonya shares, find the Both/And.


One comment on “Growing Person-Centeredness by Growing Your Network

  1. Imelda L Maurer on

    Two great points in your piece, Joan: the important and productive networking that the Pioneer Network Conference makes possible and the always-thoughful and reflective posts that Sonya Barsness offers through her blog.

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