Envisioning the Future: Exploring Lessons Learned


Pioneer Network presented a one-day symposium on March 24 titled, Envisioning the Future: Exploring Lessons Learned. This virtual event was designed to provide valuable learning within a 6-hour window through four general sessions, followed by an opportunity to gather together to join one of four interactive forums hosted by the general session speakers, designed to explore the topics more deeply.

These sessions have been recorded and are available on demand through April 30, 2021.


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Session 1

Adopting a WE CAN attitude: What Each COVID Action Necessitates

This session will lift participants out of the day to day experience of the pandemic to discover what has been learned along the way.

From a 32,000-foot perspective, Dr. Stefan Gravenstein will take us on a mesmerizing journey, reminding us of all that has been learned, the ways in which heroic actions and adaptations by long term care staff saved lives, reinvented care and the many ways, united under the banner of person directed care, that staff supported residents and coworkers through the deadliest moment in American history.

Stefan Gravenstein, M.D., Director of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital and at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. David S. Greer Professor of Geriatrics, Associate Director, Providence VA Center on Innovation and Long-Term Services and Supports.

Stefan Gravenstein, M.D. serves as Director of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital and at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Dr. Gravenstein is a world-renowned expert on a variety of measures to improve the safety of older adults, most recently through large clinical trials of influenza vaccination. He has published more than 160 peer-reviewed articles, received grants from NIH, CDC and a variety of pharmaceutical companies. He has been invited to speak around the world and is committed to building an age friendly world through innovation and better care.

Dr. Gravenstein has worked diligently with staff of nursing homes and clinicians teaching them and helping them to understand the necessity of knowing their patients and residents well and listening carefully to assure they continue to be the architects of their own lives. Dr. Gravenstein has served nursing homes and QIOs in his generous career.

Recently, Dr. Gravenstein initiated the very first session of Pioneer Network’s “Listen, Learn, Explore” series; a new educational innovation that pairs a recorded audio podcast with a virtual learning circle.

Session 2

Lessons Learned from Life During a Pandemic: Looking Beyond Resilience

Quarantine. Isolation. Separation. Social distancing. Initially, these practices helped mitigate and contain the risks of acquiring the coronavirus, creating greater safety for residents and staff. Unfortunately, these practices have endured, pulling us back to a more traditional and institutional model of care with predictable, if unintended, negative consequences. This has been a collective trauma which we need to acknowledge and address. As with all traumatic experiences, individuals are impacted differently and respond with varying degrees of resilience. All of us may find there lies within this experience an opportunity for what has been called, ‘post-traumatic growth.

In this session, Dr. Wehry will explore the challenges and consequences of isolation and the creative ways we adapted; examine the lessons we have learned, and how they can support post-traumatic growth. She will discuss the nature and nurturing of resilience and ask what might lie beyond resilience.

This session promises to inspire and challenge you to actively prepare for life where isolation, forced segregation, and social distancing are not the norm. It won’t be the same, this experience has changed us all, but if we work together and do it right, it can be even better.

Susan Wehry, M.D., Chief of Geriatrics at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Director of AgingME, Maine’s Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP)

Susan Wehry, MD, a geriatric psychiatrist, is Chief of Geriatrics at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM). She has authored research and articles on aging and mental health, including the Oasis 2.0 curriculum and a recent study published in JAMA, “Association of a Communication Training Program with Use of Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes.” Dr. Wehry is a nationally recognized speaker and workshop facilitator on depression, dementia, and healthy aging and her presentations combine over 30 years of experience with wisdom, compassion, and common sense, to engage attendees, help build skills, and use proven techniques.

Session 3

Valuing CNAs: It’s More Than Finding a Way to Get a Hot Pizza to the Night Shift!

CNAs are essential professionals. For many people outside the world of aging services, this is something they certainly have never really given much thought to — until the events of the past year that brought care communities front and center in the news.

For those who work in the field of aging services, especially in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Communities, it has long been known how essential they are, and yet this pandemic has forced us all to look hard at just how we treat and support these essential members of the team. We need to ask ourselves, are they valued, and if so, how do we show it?

Lori Porter, who started her career as a CNA and is now the CEO of the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) and one of the country’s most outspoken advocates for CNAs, is joined by Jeff Jerebker, former owner of Piñon Management, early innovator in the person-centered care movement, and now, in his retirement, a tireless advocate for person-centered care. Together they will share lessons learned from CNAs during the pandemic.

These will include stories of the challenges CNAs have faced and struggles they have overcome in order to be there for the residents, and exploration of issues that plague our field like why there is often a distrust of management and government, and how this impacted decisions to take the vaccine.

This session is not just about looking back — it’s also about looking forward. Lori and Jeff will share what IS happening and ideas for what CAN happen as we move forward to rebuild in a post-COVID world. The solutions are not necessarily easy, but we know that change is not an option, it is a necessity. Supporting the role and the quality of life for CNAs has to be a part of the changes we make — it is essential if we are to support the quality of care and life for the residents who are entrusted to all of our care.

Lori Porter, Co-Founder & CEO, National Association of Health Care Assistants
Jeff Jerebker, Sage, Co-Founder Live Oak-Project

Lori Porter started her career in long term care 40 years ago. She began as a dietary aide, moved on to be a CNA for seven years, a nursing home administrator for nearly seven years and operations director of 10 nursing homes in the Midwest. In 1995 she followed a dream and created the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) to honor and recognize CNAs and other frontline care providers who serve our nations’ elders and people living with disabilities as well as elevate the profession of nursing assistant through professional development, advocacy and empowerment.

Lori and her staff have grown NAHCA to a membership of more than 26,000 members nationwide and a partnership with more than 600 nursing homes across the country.

Lori is a nationally sought-after speaker and author of the book, Everything I Learned in Life I Learned in Long Term Care. 

Jeff Jerebker is a nationally recognized leader in long term care. As the former CEO of Piñon Management, he dedicated his career to revamping what long term care management could be. Jeff and his team introduced psycho-social models of care more than a decade before the culture change movement began, transforming many troubled nursing homes into flourishing communities of excellence along the way. He is a national speaker, Co-Founder of the Live Oak Project, blogger, elder care influencer and author of the book, Oh Mercy! The Coming of Age of a Nursing Home Pioneer.

Session 4

The Art of Compassionate Leadership

Healthcare is more than a service enterprise it is a peoples’ enterprise. At its core is a relational art. Trust and compassion have been its proud tradition. Managers play a big role in any collective human enterprise but especially in long-term care.

While we know that the elders for whom we care want and need a caring caregiver, we also need to realize that the caregiver wants a manager who cares about them. Thousands of surveys of staff working in long-term care highlight the fact that when management cares about them, they will be more engaged and then recommend you as a place to work.

This presentation will address the innate nature of compassion, how compassion differs from empathy and sympathy, the four behaviors which show caregivers that you DO care and how to foster compassion during this difficult time.

More than ever, during this time of a national pandemic, our caregivers must feel that they are also care-receivers. They will be a caring caregiver IF they feel that management cares about them – The Art of Compassionate Management.

Mary Tellis-Nayak, RN, MSN, MPH

After teaching school for nine years, Mary Tellis-Nayak pursued a career in nursing. She has worked in most areas of care for the elders: as a bedside caregiver in a hospital-based SNF, a manager of a home health agency, a DON in a freestanding nursing home, and the chief clinician in a large multi-site organization. She was the President/CEO of the American College of Health Care Administrators and served as the VP for Quality Initiatives for MyInnerView/NRC Health for twelve years.

Throughout her career, Mary has focused on caregivers and led quality improvement programs throughout long-term care. In leading Joint Commission’s program for long-term care accreditation for ten years, she developed the first set of standards for dementia care units, subacute care, and long-term care pharmacies.

Mary is currently the “Wellness Nurse” for the School Sisters of Notre Dame. In this role, she supports the sisters in the Chicago area and cares for their wellness needs. She speaks nationally on topics related to leadership, caregivers and quality in the post-acute continuum.

Tellis-Nayak earned an MSN in gerontological nursing from Rush University in Chicago and an MPH from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received an honorary doctorate in Human Letters from A. T. Stills University as a result of her work in Long-Term Care.

With her husband, Dr. V. Tellis-Nayak, Mary won the American Health Care Association’s lifetime achievement award — Champion of Quality — in 2013. In 2019, they were awarded the Champion of Quality Award from the Illinois Pioneer Coalition. They published a book in 2017: The Return of Compassion to Health Care which asks the question — WHO is the Person in Person Centered Care?

Let’s Talk Discussion Room Recordings are also available

Webinars and virtual events are great, but when we convene, we all long for that opportunity to meet and interact with the speakers and other attendees, to take a deeper dive into what we learned in the sessions.

That’s just what these final sessions are designed to do. How does it work? Decide which topic and speaker that you would like to explore further, then join us in the discussion group. There will be opportunities for question and answers, sharing of stories, and perhaps a chance to breakout into smaller groups for some problem-solving activities.

  • Let’s Talk Discussion Rooms
    • Let’s Talk: More About WE CAN / Facilitator: Stefan Gravenstein, MD
    • Let’s Talk: Looking Beyond Resilience / Facilitator: Susan Wehry, MD
    • Let’s Talk: Valuing CNAs Facilitators / Lori Porter & Jeff Jerebker
    • Let’s Talk: Compassionate Leadership/ Facilitator: Mary Tellis-Nayak, RN, MSN

CEs included: Nursing Home Administrators, Nurses, Activity Professionals and Certified Dementia Practitioners

This program has been approved for Continuing Education for 8 total participant hours by NAB/NCERS—Approval #20220323-8-A72944-DL.

National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners  CEU approved for 8 Hours. International Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners CEU approved for 8 Hours.

The NYU Meyers College of Nursing Center for Continuing Education in Nursing is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. (Provider # P0367) All nurse planner(s) and author(s)/speaker(s) have completed and signed a conflict of interest statement. Five nursing contact hours will be awarded after attending the conference.

National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP) has approved this program for 8 CEs.







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