This week, colleagues at The Green House Project highlighted some of the most profound insights from the variety of incredible guests that the Elevate Eldercare podcast has hosted. I’d highly recommend giving both a listen – they weave together an inspiring and optimistic narrative of where eldercare has been and where it’s going.
There’s lots more to unpack, but these are my top three takeaways
Eldercare is not one-size fits all
I’ve always thought it was ludicrous that medicine and society push and push for optimal care from the time we’re conceived in the womb – and then suddenly grow complacent when we hit old age. While all the guests on Elevate Eldercare are leaders pushing back on this “default” podcast guest David Grabowski of Harvard summed it up well when he said that we need to reimagine nursing homes while investing in home health care models – it’s not a dichotomous pairing but a complementary one. The needs of a complex and diverse society do not become any less complex when that society ages, and to truly place people at the center of the care they receive, we need to do a better job of getting creative, being flexible, and designing solutions that can fit all kinds of people.
Take more risks
Podcast guest Anne Montgomery of Altarum called it “negotiated risk” – perhaps no other branch of care is as risk-averse as eldercare, but the field is past due for a dose of boldness. If the goal is safety, then maybe perpetually cautious decisions are fair. But if the goal is the holistic wellbeing of elders, then it’s not safety we need to prioritize but social connection, autonomy, joy, purpose, and a connection to the outside world. As Alex Spanko, GHP director of communications and marketing, pointed out in conversation with senior director Susan Ryan, the federal government stalled the streamlining of visitation procedures in nursing homes for almost a full year in the name of “playing it safe.” That means that for one year, nursing home residents lived in isolation, and that should not be normal, even in abnormal circumstances.
Impactful leaders are humble leaders
I was so awed by podcast guest Deke Cateau’s approach in controlling the spread of the pandemic at the organization he leads, A.G Rhodes. During the height of the pandemic, rather than getting defensive at criticisms launched at the nursing home industry, he was humbled by it. One death for them was one death too many, which was a response in stark contrast to homes that defended their policies by saying that at least their death count was low.
The message of Elevate Eldercare has been consistent throughout its 100 episodes – that elders are people, not patients, and that eldercare needs to address the needs of elders, not its own agenda. Here’s to the next 100 episodes being just as radical, visionary, and inspiring as the past ones.