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The Peak Leadership Summit is underway in Washington, D.C. and hundreds of elder care leaders are gathered to learn and share current challenges in the field.  This afternoon, participants heard from Dan Heath, who shared highlights of his recent book Switch.

Here are his seven strategies  for leading change in challenging times:

1)      Know what the goal is. Whether it’s a culture change initiative or a campaign to increase hand washing among clinical staff, be crystal clear about the end point that you are trying to reach.

2)      Provide scripts for core behaviors. By letting people know exactly what is expected of them, they are more likely to be able to achieve and sustain organizational change.

3)      Pay attention to what is working. When someone complains about service, you probably try to identify the staff involved. If someone praises the service they have received, it is important to recognize that staff person. Focus on what people and the institution are doing right in regard to the issue you are seeking to improve.

4)      Break change into actionable steps. When clear actionable steps aren’t provided, people feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. By providing small steps, you can help your staff implement the desired change on a daily basis.

5)      Find out what sort of feelings are motivating your staff. Tap into the positive emotions that can provide internal motivation to excel.

6)      Use behavioral conditioning. The behaviors and moods of others are contagious. Make the desired behaviors and changes visible and staff will model and reinforce change.

7)      Use environmental cues to action. If you are trying to get clinical staff to wash their hands for a certain period of time, install automatic faucets that dispense water for that period of time. If clinical staff should use a paper towel to open a door handle, provide a trashcan near the door. These types of simple environmental cues to action reinforce messaging and help people achieve change.

Interested in learning more? Check out Dan’s book or consider joining the EAHSA meeting that will feature sessions on culture change.

Dan Heath talks with a  workshop participant.

Reminder!  Only 11 days left to submit your abstract to “Aging in a Changing World,” October 18 – 20, 2012, in Vancouver, BC!  Abstracts are due April 2, 2012.

The CAG Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting is the primary multi-disciplinary conference in Canada for those interested in individual and population aging.  It features world renowned keynote speakers from the health and social sciences, cutting-edge symposia, opportunities to present papers and posters, and an exciting social program.

Individuals are encouraged to submit abstracts that address the conference theme, although ALL submissions will be given equal consideration.  Abstracts are due April 2, 2012.

Please visit the website to view:

– Call for Abstracts

– Student Poster Competition

– Travel Assistance Grants

– Preliminary program

The 2012 ASEM is hosted by Simon Fraser University Department of Gerontology and Gerontology Research Centre.

Photo courtesy s.yume

The National Dignity Council, through its Dignity in Care campaign promotes dignity for people in care homes, and works to ensure that they are treated as individuals, are given choices, and are provided with stimulating activities. To accomplish this task, the Dignity Council has recruited over 35,000 dignity champions across the UK. Champions speak out about the importance of dignity and strive to improve the way that social care is organised and delivered. You can become a dignity champion and participate in this community through forums on the Council’s website. The web forum is an ideal place to discuss best practices and offer moral support to other carers. The Council’s vision is ‘Dignity in the heart, mind and actions,- underscoring not only the importance of believing in dignity, but also acting to improve dignity in care. You can join in tomorrow’s action day and share with others how you plan to contribute at their website:

Resident raises a glass at a dinner sponsored by a Dignity Action Group at Acacia House Nursing Home in Horndean, Hampshire

Global migration has a huge impact on the health care. It also affects quality of care provided. A recent speech at an AARP conference explored how diversity of culture contributes to quality of care and services in health care:

“Amid the many policy issues raised by a global, migratory health/long-term care workforce is a fundamental concern: whether planners and policymakers are cultivating an inclusion mindset or an inclusion ethic as they adapt institutions and design programs that deliver health and long-term care.”

Usually when talking about quality, people forget that it has so many dimensions.  It is important to remember that quality is only as strong as the work force.

Use of sensors to help seniors maintain independence longer is one of the fastest growing advances in technologies for the elderly.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, even the most basic tools are having a positive effect on the quality of life of elders at home.

As noted by Dr. Jeffrey Kay from Oregon Health and Science University, “It’s not that we need new technologies.  We need to use what we have more creatively.”

Unfortunately bad conditions are often the drivers for government to get involved in regulating private businesses. You’ve seen it in all types of industries and long term care is no exception.

And ageing services in Ireland is the latest example. The recently issued standards of care and welfare, announced by Ireland’s Health Information Quality Authority, were a result of an abuse scandal at a Dublin nursing home.

As the Irish Times reported, the 32 standards are aimed at keeping residents safe from physical, financial, material, psychological or sexual abuse and neglect. The new regulations are welcomed by Age Action Ireland as well as the association that represents nursing homes, Nursing Homes Ireland. However Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland, noted that “It’s fair to say that regulations, no matter what sector, will have an increase in the cost both to the provider and also for those in our care.”

We all know that regulations do increase costs. And our hope is that they also result in an increase in quality. But sometimes ageing service providers need to create their own quality systems, such as Quality First in the US and My Home Life in the UK. Check them out and let us know what you think.

IAHSA’s Second European Conference
Our Future: Quality Ageing Services

22-23 May 2008
Vienna, Austria

It won’t be long before we join our European colleagues in Vienna at IAHSA’s Second European Conference. A key feature of an IAHSA event is networking and relationship building, an essential ingredient for building successful programs. Another key feature is to learn from the experts – those individuals noted for their leadership and creativity in addressing the challenges facing all of us. Our two keynote speakers embody the leadership characteristics needed in the field.

Dr. Kai Leichsenring sets the stage with An Overview of the Ageing Services & Senior Housing Landscape. A Research Associate at the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Dr. Leichsenring is a noted expert in comparative social research in the areas of welfare, health policy and political science, especially with respect to older persons and people with disabilities.

The conference will close with Dr. Naomi Chambers speaking on Transformational Leadership in Ageing Services. A Senior Fellow and Head of Health Policy and Management at the Manchester Business School, as well as the President of European Health Management Association, Dr. Chambers has over 20 years operational experience in health services management.

It’s not to late to join your colleagues in Vienna – Register Today!

Keeping quality front line staff is a constant challenge to ageing service providers all over the world – especially challenging is finding the right mix of incentives and training.

Recent research in the US shows that development of career ladders and other training initiatives has a number of positive outcomes:

  • Improved communication, between and among staff and residents
  • Increase in clinical skills
  • Increased and improved teamwork
  • Increased self-esteem and self-confidence among staff
  • Improvement in recruitment and retention numbers

There were implementation challenges facing organizations, including the need for language training, providing staff coverage during training, and translation of training into practice.

This project, through funding by the Commonwealth Corporation, was conducted by the Institute for the Future of Aging Services [IFAS] and the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, was 18-month qualitative evaluation of the Extended Care Career Ladder Initiative, a program of the Massachusetts Nursing Home Quality Initiative.

IFAS is continually doing quality research on issues related to the long term care workforce. You should bookmark their Web site.

This year we at IAHSA are particularly well positioned to look forward to spring by connecting with colleagues at IAHSA’s Second European Conference – Our Future: Quality Ageing Services – in Vienna, Austria, 22-23 May. While this programme is devoted to sustaining, enhancing and expanding ageing services, and the formal presentations will be top notch, I think that the programme structure and networking opportunities will once again be the features that participants end up valuing most.

IAHSA education programmes emphasize shared learning and our European Conferences are structure with facilitated roundtable discussion groups. We aim to create educational environments that enable participants from diverse backgrounds to share with and learn from one another’s real-life, hands-on experiences. Our guiding programme principles include:

  • Interactive Participation: exercises that involve the learner and facilitate inter-personal exchanges to stimulate collective observation and thought.
  • Problem-Solving: activities that encourage inquiry, reflection and exploration of a common challenge or opportunity.
  • Blended Models: approaches that combine a variety of events and learning delivery methods to develop applicable skills over time.
  • Relationship-Building: discussions that generate possibilities for fellowship, collaboration and action.

I hope that you will agree with IAHSA that the best way to ensure Quality Aged Services and a better future for our elders is to advance the field by sharing our collective wisdom and experiences. With this in mind, I invite you to join us at IAHSA’s Second European Conference – please visit the Web site to register for Vienna!

About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

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Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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