The theme of uncertainty is certainly persistent. For many of us, that feeling might have even intensified over the last year. Understandably so. As organizations, as collectives, as humans we see and feel the shifting of the ground and it is uncomfortable.
The shifts thus far are subtle enough but they have exposed some major fault lines. For example, we might say that our eldercare system is broken. Our older adults are aging in a state of stress, frustration, confusion and complication due to numerous system-level frictions. The good news is that those frictions can be mitigated if not entirely avoided.
Today, we can say with conviction: it’s broken, let’s fix it. Our older adults deserve to age with dignity, autonomy, kindness, and stability we’d want for ourselves.
Now that we’ve acknowledged what’s broken, how do we fix it? Of course fixing is a great deal more complicated, messy, inconvenient and offers no guarantees. But we must try as the alternative is not pretty. From our vantage point to have a shot at fixing this, we need to listen and learn from those who know the most about the issues.
This means those voices on the ground including patients, caregivers, and front-line staff. They are the ones navigating through the system-level frictions, daily. Their experiences and priorities should be the drivers of change, ultimately their lives will be the most impacted by whatever “fix it” looks like. Therefore it is the quality of their lives we should seek to improve, so that we might have a chance for a happy, healthy and thriving community of older adults in BC.
There is no shortage of crises that go around. Since our last spooky post, crises have only multiplied and so have their ripples that echo stronger today than a year ago. This can feel overwhelming. Our eyes at the moment are firmly on the crisis in healthcare, especially when it comes to eldercare.
To find a way through the multitude of crises facing eldercare will require a different approach, one that we collectively develop, test, learn from and adapt as we go. We don’t have the luxury of time and having all answers figured out before we start – but we should understand the most critical points. What are the most important things to change and measure?
We also noticed just how at a system-level we have deeply reached into the health aspect of healthcare and nearly forgot about the element of care. It appears over the last several decades we’ve been drifting slowly towards emphasizing health above all else, including quality of life. We seem to have forgotten to consider the whole human being their wants and needs, we forgot to value caregivers. We instead focused on body parts or the sum of parts that need to be stabilized to health.
This rather limiting perspective also very much limits the universe of possible solutions to consider for fixing the issues. If we center possible interventions around the person as a whole, we open up an entire range of new partnership possibilities.
We should strive for a seesaw-like, gentle (or not so gentle) balance between health and care where both sides must cooperate for there to be balance.
So, how do we get our seesaw system of care? It begins with a strong, grounded fulcrum that pivots just when needed. We need to put the link back between health and care (and no it can’t just be a hyphen). That link has been broken, we need to rebuild what care looks like in its most expansive form. Do you want to join us?