Looking Back, Looking Forward
As I hang a new calendar on the wall, I am reminded of what an amazing and fulfilling year 2015 was. I was able to travel to 33 cities in 18 states, and another 13 cities in 7 other countries, visiting places ranging from Perth, Australia to Akureyri, Iceland, to Ofunato, Japan. Amazing places and amazing people.
2016 looks to be equally exciting. I’ll have more trips to more new countries and many talks across the US and Canada. Health Professions Press will also be releasing the second edition of my debut book, Dementia Beyond Drugs in the spring.
One event that I am very much looking forward to is the 8th Eden Alternative International Conference, being held May 3-5 in Little Rock, Arkansas. I have been asked to do yeoman’s work at the conference this year, so you will have to plan very carefully if you wish to avoid me!
I will be helping out with two half-day intensive workshops—one on an innovative project for dialogical education (with Dr. Jennifer Carson), and one on an amazing value-based pre-design process (with Dr. Emi Kiyota). I’ll be sharing breakout sessions on well-being and technology (with Jack York) and on an innovative aging-in-community model, the Ibasho café (with Emi Kiyota). In fact, the only drawback to my exciting week is that I will have no chance to catch the other superb talks that will be lined up opposite mine. And there are a slew of them!
But one place where I plan to let it all hang out is as the keynote speaker for the conference. In that session, I will challenge the audience to go deeper to create true well-being for people living with changing cognitive abilities.
It has been nearly 20 years since Tom Kitwood’s book Dementia Reconsidered launched the “person-centered care” movement. There have been many more books and hundreds of published articles expanding and evolving the concept. In spite of all of this knowledge, however, the goals of person-directed care have fallen far short of reality for many, if not most people living with the diagnosis, regardless of where they live. Why is this?
I believe there are several reasons, and the irony is that our approach to person-directed care, if we’re not careful, can actually erode personhood! How can we get by these barriers and go deeper?
Using a framework I have developed for supporting people who live with dementia, and following an appreciative approach, I will list several “aspirations” that we can embrace, in order to truly enhance well-being for all. But be forewarned: whenever one constructs a value-based approach to support and care, that value system often exposes attitudes and practices that lie in direct conflict with those values. And many of those attitudes and practices are a central part of our mainstream approach.
As such, prepare to be challenged; we are going to barbeque a few “sacred cows” in Little Rock this year. The day after my keynote, I will be chairing a “think tank” session, where we can dialogue on the topics I’ve raised in more detail. I hope you will join the conversation!
Learn more about the educational line-up at the 2016 Eden Alternative International Conference. Early Bird registration closes on February 5, 2016.