[Note from Dr. Bill] Best part of my new job as a university professor is, hands down, the students. Below is a guest post from one of UMBC’s best and brightest grad students. I’d like to extend an open invitation to all UMBC students, faculty and staff interested in Changing Aging to join our conversation. Enjoy —
First and foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Thomas for letting me guest post today. I am honored to have the opportunity to make my first post on such an active and important blog.
While my blogging name is JazzRespect&Heart my real name is Patrick Doyle. I am a first year doctoral gerontology student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). My interests are in researching quality of care in long-term care and through this, furthering the progress we have already made in the culture change movement.
The goal of this post is to start an active dialogue on the future directions of the culture change movement and the role of beginning and aspiring gerontologists in this vision. So please don’t just read this post, take a second to comment with ideas and suggestions.
While the concept of culture change is relatively new, the history is rich. In the initial meetings discussing culture change, scholars in the field of gerontology gathered and shared revolutionary ideas about elder care. These ideas laid the foundation for a new and dignified elderhood. These scholars came away from the meetings determined to move from institutional care to a home-like care setting focused on the needs of the elder NOT the institution.
The pioneers of this movement were active advocates for change, which, I would argue has triggered a paradigm shift. This change in zeitgeist was difficult for many people used to the old system as it required a complete alteration in their weltanschauung (I figured I would add to the intrigue of the post by incorporating a few German philosophical terms). What sets new gerontologists apart is that for the most part, we were not taught that old method of care. Due to the efforts of innovators of culture change, the ideals now being taught closely align with the once revolutionary principles they advocated. From these teachings, students are molding their “world views” which leads to a greater adoption of the culture change philosophies.
I am not saying that all new gerontologists accept or are even aware of these concepts but that now more than ever there is a growing following in this movement. The bottom line is that in order to further culture change these students must become entrenched in the movement.
Here is the X factor:
As I see it, we have two generations in this movement – the innovators and the student supporters. For the culture change movement to maintain momentum in the upcoming years these students need to be dedicated, well-trained and knowledgeable in gerontology/culture change. They need to know what has been done, what has not; what works, what does not; what we have tried and where we are going….
Who can teach this better than the innovators themselves? I say no one. That is why I feel the most important thing for this movement is to form a close collaboration between the innovators and the students. Here is the million dollar question for everyone:
How do we accomplish this?
I have some thoughts but I want to hear yours!
(Commentary on specific roles of new gerontologists and the future of culture change would also be greatly appreciated!)
[Patrick can be reached at pdoyle1ATumbcDOTedu]