The “Network” in Pioneer Network

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Joan Devine, Pioneer Network Director of Education

I am one of those people who has always believed that there is a lot of truth in the saying, “It’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know.” For example, as a young nurse, I was not the best at starting IVs, and I hated to hurt people, so I quickly learned who of my peers excelled in that skill and would “barter” with them so that the patient got the best care! That was one of my earliest forays in professional networking.

As the years have gone by, I have grown my personal network by getting to know the strengths of those I worked with, meeting people through professional organizations and trade associations and even through participation in functions hosted by agencies like my state’s department of health. This networking has benefited not only me, but through the connections I have made, I have been able to find answers to many of the challenges faced within the organizations I have worked with and for the teams I have been a part of.

But of all the networks that I have been connected with, the one that has had the greatest influence on my life, both professionally and personally, is Pioneer Network! It’s in the name…it’s what the organization is all about — fostering and helping to create opportunities for Networking, knowing that only by working together will we fulfill the mission of changing the culture of aging! It’s the place to “find your people”!

So, what — or who — is the “Network” of Pioneer Network? How does it work? Well, to start with, if you are reading this article, the answer is YOU! Through the work you do every day, you are creating the expertise that we all need to have, and by sharing with others, you are helping to build the momentum, to support the growth of each of us and ultimately advance the mission.

The network is organizations like Action Pact, The Eden Alternative, PHI — and many more — who are there to guide us in finding the model of care, the knowledge and the tools and resources needed to advance the culture of aging and provide the best of care and services to Elders and to our care teams.

We are very proud to have the team at CMS and many of the regional offices as networking partners with Pioneer Network. It’s also the associations that many of us have come to count on over the years like the Alzheimer’s Association, American Health Care Association, LeadingAge, National Association of Activity Professionals, American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination — and so many others. And it’s new and up-coming organizations like the one Harris Ader recently formed, Senior Dining Association, to help fill a gap he identified in networking opportunities for Senior Dining Professionals.

If your state has a coalition, and you are not involved with it, then there is a networking opportunity you don’t want to miss out on! And what about the QIOs or the state Ombudsmen (or resident advocacy groups), who bring together like-minded individuals. There are individual consultants, practitioners and organizations who share their expertise with us on a regular basis. And what about the networking that we have done as an advocate to end ageism? Working with leaders in the movement like Ashton Applewhite and the team that has created resources like OldSchool, a clearinghouse for all things anti-ageism.

I would be remiss if I did not mention all the business partners we work with — those that support Pioneer Network through sponsorships and interact with many of you each and every day by providing products and services that help you advance person-centered practices for residents and care partners.

Networking needs to be more than knowing who is out there — the value is in making it happen. So how can you benefit from the “Network” in Pioneer Network?

You have already taken the first step by connecting through the weekly newsletter. Maybe you attend the webinars offered each month. Are you on social media? Do you follow Pioneer Network on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook? Did you know we are now hosting a Culture Change Chat Group on Facebook? All great ways to interact with your fellow Pioneers!

And of course, my favorite way to Network through Pioneer Network is by attending the Pioneering a New Culture of Aging annual conference. The team at Pioneer Network would LOVE to see you in Louisville, Kentucky August 4 – 7, and have you join us for the ultimate Networking opportunity where we can come together face to face. Meet your culture change heroes, those whose names you know or whose books you have read as well as the heroes who come to share the stories of the work they do every day as care partners and as Elders.

So, remember, the great news is that you don’t have to know it all — you just need to take advantage of the value of networking. Connect with others who do know!

Now, to my old and new Networking partners who are reading this, I have an ask. I am sure I have left out individuals and organizations who are a part of the Pioneer “Network” — who you have connected with over the years. Won’t you share with us your stories of networking and how it has made a difference for you on your journey? Tell us how you have “found your people,” and how together you are “Making it happen”!

 

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