When I was growing up, my mother would often use the word instigator to describe my bad behavior. If I was bothering my sister or trying to pick a fight, she would frequently say, “Don’t be an instigator!!!” That meant back off and don’t make trouble.
As a parent, I now understand where she was coming from. She had enough to worry about without my making her life more difficult. However, as an adult and as a business leader, I also understand that instigators are a necessary and important part of our lives. Dr. Bill Thomas is by my definition of the ultimate instigator.
Dr. Bill has been busy making waves lately with his abolitionist point of view on nursing homes. I think it’s important to note that he is not picking on anyone personally, nor is he ignoring the efforts of the thousands of people who have put their heart and soul into caring for elders in their corner of the world. Instead, I believe he is taking a position against the institution known as a nursing home, saying it needs to go because the majority of nursing homes still don’t get this thing called culture change. He has resorted to using bolder terms because he is an instigator.
While some may disagree with his tactics, I believe there is value in having Bill as an instigator. He challenges us to look at the elder care situation differently, and while it is not comfortable for some, it is an important part of the process. Without an instigator’s poking and prodding, there are many advances in our society that would have been missed. Our lives would be different, and our well-being certainly diminished were it not for instigators like Dr. Bill. If you step back for a minute, you could think of several such people in history.
At The Eden Alternative, we remain committed to helping those people and organizations that want to make change happen and create a life worth living for elders and their care partners. We will work with you to do this hard work and support you any way we can, drawing from many hard lessons learned over the past 20 years.
I know Dr. Bill wants us to continue with our mission, while at the same time he is willing to play the role of instigator to achieve the kind of change needed to improve elder care and our societal views on aging on a much larger scale than has been possible so far.