“Wake up tomorrow and start again,” were the words echoed around the room as Connie Goldman spoke at the opening of the Eden Alternative conference this week. These are words of wisdom, words of power, and words that many in the room took refuge in almost immediately. You see, the room was filled with warriors. Warriors who have been battling for the cause of Elders for some time now. Warriors who have looked defeat in the face and refused to quit. Warriors who needed to be refilled and refreshed and charged to once again move forward.
The Eden Alternative Conference was one of the best I have ever attended. Below are my 3 key take aways:
1) “Every day in America, the Institution wins and the Individual loses.”. Carmen Bowman. I think these words were so profound. Too many times in long term care, individuality is lost out to the programmed way of life that is the traditional institution. Even with all the work that has been done, there is much yet to do.
2) “In order to grow and develop as an individual we must be exposed to situations where the outcome is not known. When there is no possibility of failure, there is no meaning in what we do”- Bill Thomas. Everyone deserves to grow. Think about this. In the LTC environment, we often want to “protect” the Elders from failure, we want to surround them with winning. This reminds me of when my daughter played Little League Basketball as a small child, we wanted to protect her from failing at it. One day I soon realized that the only way she could grow in that area was to risk failure. We all deserve to risk the unknown, it is an essential part of life that doesn’t magically go away as we age! It is our duty to provide the opportunity for growth for the Elders in our LTC homes. Let’s think of how we can create an environment in which Elders can fail safely.
3) “If stories come to you, treasure them. Learn to give them away when they are needed”-Connie Goldman. Storytelling is truly a lost art form. I can’t even begin to count the number of amazing stories that have been given to me as gifts by Elders I have loved over the years. Sometimes, I think back on them and reflect of how those stories have changed my outlook on my life at different times. Stories have the power to change lives. We must be cautious to not let them die within us.
This conference revived me. It gave me strength to keep pushing for a “new reality” for the Elders who live in our home. We must strive to “enchant” every day so that our Elders win. We must push to make teamwork the essence of everything we do so our Elders flourish. We must create home because it is truly the beacon that all of us need. So as Connie said, “let’s wake up and start again tomorrow” so we can advance the revolution and change the landscape of long term care.