Being an empowering facilitative leader is the single most important aspect of the culture change journey. For person-directed care to become a reality, facilitative leaders must create an environment flexible enough that teams can make decisions on the spot and adjust to the needs of the moment.
Care partnership, as The Eden Alternative defines it, really supports the idea of empowerment. In the traditional caregiver/care receiver dynamic, individuals who identify as caregivers often define their role exactly as it is described – to give to and “do for” the care receiver. This often reinforces helplessness on the part of the care receiver, who, over time, is conditioned to give in to this passive role. The result is a burned out, depleted caregiver and an unempowered care receiver.
Care partnership calls on everyone involved in the care relationship to see themselves as partners in care. As care partners, we learn to recognize that every individual has something to offer another, no matter what challenges they may live with. We also begin to recognize the many ways we can receive from others, that perhaps, we didn’t see before. This evens the playing field and acknowledges that care is really about the subtle dance of giving and receiving alive in every moment between two people.
Empowerment, then, is about all kinds of teams – care partner teams in nursing homes, in assisted or independent living, in small homes for people living with different abilities, or a care partner team that includes an Elder who lives in her own home. No matter where we live, how can we empower each other, as care partners? Feeling empowered is vital to our continued growth and development, no matter who we are, or where we live or work.
All this said, facilitative leaders may find themselves bumping up against some team anxiety or resistance to develop their own leadership skills and take on more responsibility. Facilitative leaders might feel discouraged or even waver in their commitment to create a participatory environment when teams push-back. But it’s important to remember that push-back is a natural part of the growth process. Hanging in there will be well worth it.
If teams struggle with being empowered, leaders need to:
- Create a safe space for discussion and sharing of the concerns, through Learning Circles or other means.
- Affirm discomfort and make sure team members feel heard and understood.
- Clarify/identify what conditions need to be in place for team members to feel comfortable with more responsibility.
On Tuesday, March 19th from 3 to 4 pm ET, three culture change leaders who work in three distinct care environments will come together to explore empowerment of teams in different settings. As a part of the Facilitative Leadership Webinar Series, “Facilitating Empowerment” will explore qualities and approaches unique to facilitating empowerment in different care environments and the ultimate goal that each of them shares: empowering the individual accepting support. Click here to register.
Published first at The Eden Alternative Blog