Meagan Hannan and LaVrene Norton are two of the leaders in the national effort to change the culture of long-term care. This not from LaVrene popped into my inbox and I thought that people might find it interesting. Note the Baltimore connection as well.
The goal of the learning circle is to give everyone a voice, be it in making decisions or sharing in community. Action Pact consultant, Megan Hannan was part of a learning circle at Jewish Convalescent Home in Baltimore, MD wherein the depth of sharing was extraordinary. She shares the story here:
“It was during a PersonFirst ™ learning session facilitated by members of the in-house PersonFirst™ team. One of the team members opened the circle by asking participants to share any experience they had encountered with homelessness. As we went around the circle it was revealed that several folks participating had themselves been homeless. One woman, a nurse from Africa, told about her parents who had been moved out of their town, and didn’t know where they were going to live for a couple of days. When she heard about the incident, it affected her deeply to know that her mother and father were homeless even for a couple of days. She and her siblings have promised to never let it happen again.
One of the men in the circle shared that he had had a couple of bad years and did end up homeless. It was not a good time in his life. He talked about being lonely and how easy it was to become homeless, and that he never wants that to happen again. Another woman had a powerful story of being ejected from her home country because she was Jewish. As a little girl with her family, not only did they not have a home, they had no country. Those feelings stay with you all the time she said.
I have never been is such a profound circle in all my 11 years of participating in circles. I don’t think this team member had any idea going in how many people had directly experienced homelessness. Wow. This group is well able to connect with the experiences and feeling of the elders they serve. They also have a common bond among themselves after this experience. I applauded the facilitator – he took a risk he maybe didn’t even realize he was taking – but as one of the PersonFirst™ values states: Risk is a normal part of life. As trainers, we explain that by reminding everyone how we often grow when we take a risk. We come out stronger, more knowledgeable, more empathetic, a better person.”