Pioneer Network Conference Highlights Key Issues and New Projects
“Building a Bridge to a New Culture of Aging” was the theme of this year’s Pioneer Network Conference, which was held August 5-8 in Jacksonville, Florida. During opening-day “mini-conferences” — a new feature this year — long-term care and culture change experts discussed numerous hot topics within the long-term care community. The next day included full-day sessions, which were well attended by both newcomers to culture change and annual conference attendees. There was information for everyone: how to get started in culture change; how to maintain the momentum you’ve achieved; how to honor resident’s dining choices; how to eliminate alarms; how to incorporate culture change in ombudsman training; and how to create an environment of safety and inclusion for LGBT older adults. New research about culture change was also presented.
At the opening plenary, the Pioneer Network’s Karen Stobbe reviewed the values of the Pioneer Network. She then introduced the crowd to Dan Cohen of the Music & Memory Project. Dan has been working with elders across the country, many of whom are mentally isolated due to a debilitating diagnosis. He has been able to help them to reconnect with their more youthful identity using playlists of familiar songs they can listen to on an iPod. We watched a video of Henry from Cobble Hill Nursing Home in New York as he virtually came alive when listening to his favorite singer from the 1930’s and 40’s. Dan encouraged all in the audience to use music to enhance the memory recall and quality of life for the elders we are supporting.
Then the State Culture Change Coalitions met together to share best practices and map out a plan for the coming year. There was a large variety of interesting subjects discussed in the concurrent sessions over the next two days, which were very well attended.
The conference closed with a presentation by Karl Pillemer, founder of the Legacy Project. He interviewed 1,500 elders and asked them for the most important lessons they have learned over the course of their lives. He compiled this advice into a delightful book entitled 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans. We all have a lot to learn from elders who have a lifetime of experience to share with us. Keeping these lessons in mind can help us all as we try to understand the culture of those we care for while still supporting their long-term care needs.
– by Kathy McCollett, PHI Organizational Change Consultant