By Stuart Kaplan
I believe as a group, individually and collectively, we are built for change. Change can be refreshing, exhilarating, and is advanced by trust.
We’ve all pressed forward through the pandemic – never did we think that GAN would have an event that affects us all similarly and globally, other than aging itself. And, we didn’t have it all figured out before the pandemic — nevertheless we now have more complexity with challenges we had never contemplated. But because we had trusted leaders at the helm of our organizations before the pandemic we were in fact, even though perhaps unknowingly, prepared for change — what was to come …. and what still lies ahead.
And we are powered by people — caring, kind-hearted people many of whom have chosen caring as their calling. They want to do the right thing for others, come what may — whether it is following time honored procedures or changing, on a dime, to save and protect lives in the face of crises. I don’t think you come to this profession, caring for older adults by accident or by whim….my experience is that people come to this sector by choice —regardless of whether you are a direct caregiver, support services or administrative. It could be a first choice or, perhaps a realization that comes after trying another field or industry. Like many, my involvement comes from a personal experience with family, in my case grandparents, that coincided with my higher education. But through changes and challenges, I’ve remained dedicated to the vision of exemplary aged care.
Whether we see change as pivoting, adapting, acclimating, or innovating, —- as leaders, our end goals do not change – service to older adults, financial stability, respecting and watching out for our staff. There is stability in the constancy of these end goals.
I’m sure at the beginning of the pandemic we all looked for an endpoint…. Believing we would experience a temporary disruption followed by return to so-called normal, because that’s how we have experienced crises and disasters in the past. Now, fully 24 months later we no longer foresee a date or time-specific endpoint. Rather, we must all reset our expectations for our normal, for our work/life balance, and for change, big change for our staff, our families and us! — all, with appreciation for how far we’ve come, how much we’ve accomplished.
And, finally, I wonder out loud what is the currency for us to carry out this change or reset? I propose that it is trust. In a world of such uncertainty, we can still all be true to our word (something my mother taught me :)). Even when circumstances bring on change out of our control — perhaps change affecting thousands of people — timely, straightforward explanations reinforce, and if need be, restore trust. It is our word, it is our reputation, it is our responsibility to remain trustworthy — trust is the most important currency we must carry on our all-important work.