High Involvement Has UnitingCare Australia on Fire

Action Pact founder LaVrene Norton tells the story of how her grandfather used to head out in early spring to “warm the soil” for his garden. While he accepted frost as a natural part of the cycle of life, he saw no reason to let it go on any longer than necessary. He would light a large bonfire on the garden plot, let it burn until the soil had been softened, then turn the coals over into the earth. As a result, their family had peas and lettuce sprouting in their garden before anyone else. Continue reading “High Involvement Has UnitingCare Australia on Fire”

Residents Become PersonFirst® Trainers at Assisi House

High involvement is at the core of Action Pact’s PersonFirst® training. After all, it is a train the trainer model wherein Action Pact consultants train folks in an organization who then train others on the principles of putting the person first. Traditionally, PersonFirst® is a program for staff. Sometimes residents from Independent Living or spouses of those living in the nursing home will be trained. The community of Assisi House in Aston, PA, the retirement convent for the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, has really taken the high involvement to heart and included resident sisters among the first to be trained. Continue reading “Residents Become PersonFirst® Trainers at Assisi House”

Helping Out and Staying Active

Geurt Van Sant is a man who likes to work, likes to be helpful. His move to Hearthstone: A Ministry of Wesley Life in Pella, IA  was not going to change that. “I’m going to be doing something until the day I have to crawl to get out to the yard to help,” he said. “I enjoy doing that kind of work – work that just has to be done.” Continue reading “Helping Out and Staying Active”

Why We Do Learning Circles

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The learning circle is the handy hammer of culture change – anyone can use it, it’s simple, it’s intuitive and it’s the tool you come back to, over and over, with each new piece of home life you build. For the Household Model to function at its potential, the organization must be reconfigured, doing away with traditional silos and hierarchy. The learning circle is the tool that can assist the organization in that work. Continue reading “Why We Do Learning Circles”

4 Ways High Involvement Supports Organizational Transformation

High involvement is essential for deep transformation. W. Edwards Deming, a statistician, was credited with Japan’s rise in manufacturing after World War II. The improvements were seen clearly in the quality of Japanese cars that began to dominate American highways in the 1970’s. Deming’s processes gradually came to influence the entire auto industry. In his book Out of the Crisis, published in 1982, he detailed 14 points vital to transforming business. His 14th point: Transformation is everyone’s job. Continue reading “4 Ways High Involvement Supports Organizational Transformation”

Facilitating Organizational Change from Within

At Action Pact our philosophy of change focuses on developing leaders who inspire a vision, listen to others and step out of traditional roles and patterns. We specialize in creating learning organizations. In order to do this we help create—and help our clients learn to create—a climate for learning. An important element of that is utilizing different learning strengths. Some of us are visual learners, others are auditory learners and others are kinesthetic learners. Continue reading “Facilitating Organizational Change from Within”

When Hierarchy Reigns, Culture Change Efforts Flounder

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We can create homey spaces, offer elders more choice and change long standing institutional practices, but culture change and the Household Model will not be effective unless we flatten the organization. As long as hierarchy reigns, elders will not be in control of their own lives. And as long as departmental silos dictate the way things are done, staff closest to elders will not be able to do what they can to help elders live a meaningful life in a place that truly feels like home. A nursing home can have a warm appearance, a friendly atmosphere, do fun and interesting things with its residents, but unless the decisions of daily life are made by elders and those closest to them, the culture is still one of one-size-fits-all-this-is-just-the-way-it’s-done.

Elders can’t make choices in the moment when what they want needs to be OK’d by three different people, one or two of whom may not even know them. One of the things we all enjoy about being in our own homes as opposed to work, a hotel or even at a friend or family member’s home, is the freedom to make spontaneous decisions, to have things the way we like them and go about our day according to our own schedule.  A household or neighborhood team comprised of staff from all disciplines that makes decisions together and is responsible to one another can most effectively meet elders needs. Cross-training and versatile workers within the team allow more people within the team to respond to the elder in front of them instead of having to go find someone else who can do the job. It can also be a great benefit at the busiest times of the day when extra help is needed in one particular area.

Only when the household or neighborhood teams have the responsibility, authority and flexibility to make decisions can they reach their full potential for giving individualized care and creating true home for the elders they serve.

The process of flattening the organization is not something that is done overnight. I suggest 3 steps to move forward with this process.

  1. Make your organization one of Shared Leadership.
  2. Use Learning Circles to help staff communicate.
  3. Create an environment of High Involvement.

We will go into more detail about each of these steps in upcoming blog posts. Please share your own challenges and successes in flattening the organization in the comment section.

LaVrene Norton is the founder of Action Pact, an organization devoted to changing the culture of care environments for elders – making it possible to live in a homey place & have a good day every day, no matter how frail one becomes.  Action Pact has assisted care organizations on their journey to households since 1997. Norton is co-author with Steve Shields of In Pursuit of the Sunbeam, and publisher of a variety of educational books, workbooks and videos focusing on the Household Model.