September 29, 2014
Virgil Thomas, ChangingAging.org

Some of you may know by this point that I love to share TED talks from time to time and today I’m sharing another one to kick off the week.

Anyone who knows The Eden Alternative is most likely acquainted with our “why’s?” We do what we do to create a life worth living, to transform the institutional model of care into one that is person-directed, and to help Elders live with meaning and purpose. We do what we do to make better the lives of Elders around the world. And I can say for a fact, each and every one of us at the home office would gladly give up our jobs tomorrow, if it meant we were no longer needed.

In the video (linked above), Simon Sinek discusses how powerful leadership comes from “why,” not “what” or “how.” It is that clarity of vision that separates many successes from failures. Sinek’s refrain is “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Why do people embrace culture change? Why do people reject it? If, in this scenario, we imagine the institutional dragon as the competitor, and we compare any of Sinek’s criteria (what, how, why) how does a person directed model not win out every time?

The institutional model focuses on the condition, not the person. So, if you approached the issue from the perspective of “how,” which would you choose? Would it be a model that utilizes a narrow and ridged approach to care, or one that incorporates the whole person, partnership, and team. The scale tips even more when you examine the “what.” The institutional model has a sordid history of delivering sub-standard care. I’m not even talking about quality of life.

In an industry with 15,000 homes, nearly half are rated two stars and below by the CMS nursing home compare on quality measures. Approximately 7,500 nursing homes have quality ratings so low, that if they were a hotel, you wouldn’t even stay the night.

Now, for the all-important “why.” After all, people don’t buy what they do; they buy why you do it. The “why’s” of The Eden Alternative, and like-minded organizations, are actually very similar to those of the nursing home industry at large.

I thoroughly believe that most people who make the care of elders their life’s work can only have one goal, and that is the health and well-being of the people they serve. No one gets into it for the money, or the fame, or the glory. The perception of the general public (while not as nuanced as we would like) is that, basically, the nursing home industry exists to take care of people who can no longer take care of themselves.

As “worldmakers,” we each need to question our “why.” How does creating quality of care and quality of life, wherever Elders live, factor into your mission and vision?   What steps are you taking that exceed the status quo beyond your wildest dreams?

Dig more deeply into the topic of quality improvement in a 3-part webinar series, Person-Directed Performance Improvement, scheduled to launch October 16th


1 Comment. Leave new

I saw this a few weeks ago and Simon definitely enables you to get to the ‘why’. From an Eden Alternative perspective, the “why” for us all is easy to answer…and if you can clearly articulate this then ‘selling’ the whole concept of the power of the Eden Alternative to others will be much easier. The WIFM (What’s in it for me) statement is clearly identified. I highly recommend you take the time to watch this. Thanks Kavan.


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