Quotes from Jill Vitale-Aussem
All quotations from Jill Vitale-Aussem are extracted from Disrupting the Status Quo of Senior Living: A Mindshift, © 2019 by Health Professions Press. Any one quote may be reproduced with this preceding credit line. For more extensive use of quotations by Jill Vitale-Aussem contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s no other field where push-back against the status quo, disruption, and mindshifts are more needed than in senior living.
We focus much of our sales and marketing efforts on telling people what they will receive if they move to our community. Rarely do we ask the questions: What will the older adult bring to this community? How will they make it a better place?
There is little to no outrage about the blank and stifling environments that we create in nursing homes and retirement communities in the name of risk management…. Why do we think all risk must end when we reach a certain age?
So often, we see people, especially in nursing homes, who are so institutionalized and dependent that they think they can’t do anything unless it’s scheduled on a calendar and run by team members. Real life doesn’t work that way.
It’s disturbing that I had the power to make decisions for residents who were well over twice my age and with twice the life experience. Yet that is the culture of senior living and of healthcare. We assume that just because someone is older and needs some assistance, the person can no longer make decisions about risk or how he or she wishes to live his or her life.
Senior living communities aren’t hotels. For a sense of community to develop, people need to have influence on their community and see themselves as citizens instead of consumers of services.
When you encounter opposition, celebrate it – it means you’re doing something different!
I’ve found, when working on deep cultural transformation, that it’s critical to create a culture where incompetence is celebrated. Where team members understand it’s expected that they will bumble along and make mistakes in the pursuit of new skills or a new way of doing things. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to not have all of the answers. It’s okay to have a really shitty first draft…. Transformational leaders understand that when going into unknown territory, often the path must be laid as you walk it. The leader’s role is to help people take the first step, even when they don’t have everything figured out.
There are some very real challenges that come with aging. If not addressed, these challenges can impede a resident’s opportunity to participate in a community and to have purpose and independence. It’s important to address these items and ensure that building design is supportive of the challenges of its inhabitants.