July 6, 2023

The Pause Button

by Denise Hyde, PharmD, Eden Membership Engagement Guide

If you are like most people, you are familiar with the pause button. It’s a button on every device that plays a recording be it voice, music, or video. It also shows up when things are chaotic or stressful. You need to take a breath and regroup and the pause button helps you do that. The pause button can keep us from saying something that might hurt the listener. The pause button can give us time to really contemplate the impact of our next steps before we take action.

The pause button can also cause us to go into limbo and not take any action at all. The timeframe that we use for the pause button can have some serious consequences especially when it comes to implementing the Eden Approach, alleviating loneliness, helplessness, and boredom, and strengthening well-being for all.

I have been working in, training, consulting, and coaching people trying to shift the culture of care to a person-directed approach for over 20 years now. What’s amazing is that the same things that caused people to hit the pause button 20 years ago are the same things I am hearing today. Different voices, different root causes, but the issues are ultimately the same. For example:

  • We are in a leadership/ownership transition
  • I/We don’t have enough time
  • We are short-staffed (a phrase that needs to be eliminated by the way)
  • Our turnover is too high, we don’t want to invest in someone who is just going to leave
  • We are implementing _____ and we just cannot take on anything else right now
  • We don’t have the funds right now

Two phrases pop into my head (and sometimes out of my mouth): “If not you, then who?” and “If not now, when?”

There is so much you can do to make a HUGE difference in the life of an Elder that does not require the permission of someone else. Does not require additional funding. Does not take more time. Does not require hiring six new people. All it requires is taking a baby step forward to the bigger dream of a life worth living for the individual that you support each day (and ultimately for you too).

So, can you …

  • Take a few extra minutes today and really be present with the person you are supporting, truly listening to what they have to say?
  • Sit down and look the person in the eye?
  • Ask a different question in a team huddle that shifts people’s perspectives and gets them to a new approach that honors the voice and choice of the individual in question?
  • Avoid labeling someone by their diagnosis or actions as you share the story of their day with the next person coming in to support them?
  • Do, as Dr. Al Power would say, “the least that you can do so they can do the most that they can” while you assist them today?
  • Cover a teammate so they can participate in a learning experience that will help them be a better care partner?
  • Share something you are learning about person-centered/directed care with someone else today so they can learn too?

We spend too much time imagining that implementing the Eden Approach happens in BIG moments and takes LOTS of effort. The truth is it comes to life in all the little moments that are available throughout the day. If you can’t make it happen for those you support, who will? If you cannot do it now, then when?

The next time you are tempted to hit the pause button, think about how you can hit play instead. Take a baby step forward …


Baby elephant Photo by Hu Chen on Unsplash