The Clock is Ticking
I was watching the movie The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel this weekend. There is a scene where Judi Dench is contemplating a new relationship with a man staying at the hotel. She tells her co-worker that she wants to ask this man to just give her some time to decide if she is ready for the relationship. Her partner, in his amazing wisdom, asks her, “How much time do you have?”
It is one of those ah-ha moments for Judi Dench’s character. It was also one of those ah-ha moments for me because it occurred to me that this wisdom applies to changing the culture of care too. How much time do the Elders we serve today have? For that matter, how much time do we have to make person-directed care the norm and any other approaches the very rare exception?
We hear it all the time. There are a million excuses to postpone, delay, and sideline implementing person-directed care, some of which are very valid to the person(s) offering them. While it might be okay to accept the excuses at face value, to acknowledge that culture change is a difficult process and that there are other important competing priorities which require the attention of leaders, the bigger question is once again, “How much time do the Elders you serve have?” Is it fair to them to postpone the integration of culture change ideas and approaches one more day, week, month or year? How many Elders have died waiting for someone to “get it?”
There are leaders who really get it. When they go to implement their E.H.R., they are looking for the tool that will enable the whole “personhood” of the individual to be expressed in that electronic tool. They ensure that there are places to capture the Three Plagues and simple pleasures. There are those who bring in new education and make sure culture change language and principles are spoken aloud and woven into the experience. They reject new ideas that push the medical model back to the forefront or find ways to ensure that genuine human caring drives the new idea. These leaders engage the Elders and ask them what the next right answer is, or reach out to the hands-on care partners to get their direction in creating and implementing a new policy.
Culture change is not the extra thing we do when we have time. It is the new way of life; it should be the way we have conversations, solve problems, find and implement new ideas. When we stop making excuses we can create a life worth living for all care partners. We can ensure that no more Elders suffer from loneliness, helplessness, and boredom. The clock is ticking for us all … Someday we will likely be recipients of the care model we are driving today, just as the Elders of today are recipients of the model they helped promote. How much time do you have? I say time is short, and excuses are lame!