Inspiring Your Board to Get Onboard with Culture Change

Clermont Park residents at a cooking demonstration
Clermont Park residents at a cooking demonstration

Are you looking for a new idea on how to inspire your Board of Directors to support your culture change journey? Clermont Park in Denver came up with an inspiring idea that they’d like to share.

At Clermont’s annual Board of Directors retreat this year board members got two opportunities to experience what it’s like to live with frailty.

The first activity involved a nurse and nursing assistant serving as mentors taking each board member through empathy training. They experienced what it felt like to live with arthritis, vision loss, loss of hearing, to be ignored or treated like a child. It was very powerful to see how they experienced the exercise. One board member commented that he felt a profound sense of loneliness like he had never felt before, and it hit him how unbelievably painful it would be to live like that.

Next, they had a 13-member Elder panel from all parts of their community share their thoughts and insights on where the organization should be moving in the future. The Elders submitted an essay to get an opportunity to be on the panel.

The Elders and mentors then joined the board for cocktail hour and dinner. Board member Ross DenBraber, CEO of Christian Living Communities said:

“Inviting residents to serve on a panel to share their insights on the organization and where we are headed was invaluable. It validated our mission and the power of resident direction. The residents felt an incredible sense of empowerment and the board was inspired to continue their good work in supporting and guiding the organization. The board members said this was the best planning retreat we have ever had.”

What a great example of wise leadership in action. Can you share any ideas you have for getting your board of directors onboard with culture change?

Article written by

Chris Perna comes to The Eden Alternative after spending 25 years in the insurance industry, most recently in long-term care insurance as president of MedAmerica Insurance Company.

7 Responses

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  1. Marcia Barhydt
    Marcia Barhydt at | | Reply

    I think the empathy training was a wonderful idea. Clearly, it brought home new feelings of the residents about how living with a chronic disability changes their lives. It was especially rewarding to see how it was to be ignored or treated like a child.
    I’d like to see more and more groups train others in empathy.

  2. Timm Holt
    Timm Holt at | | Reply

    When I was head of the geriatric department at a hospital in California we did similar training with the administrative staff. The experience was an eye opener. One incident I remember vividly. We put the operations manager in a wheelchair after having drank a large amount of coffee and had him find a handicap equipped bathroom from the lobby. There was none. The closet bathroom he could use was on the third floor.

  3. Rayne Stroebel
    Rayne Stroebel at | | Reply

    I LOVE IT!!!!!!!! Brilliant idea!

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