Empathy is the essential primary element in re-defining eldercare –and a host of other social issues –according to Marvell Adams, Jr.
Adams, who is the chief operating officer of The Kendal Corp., a non-profit eldercare provider located outside of Philadelphia, just joined the board of The Green House Project.
During a podcast that debuts today, Adams spoke with Green House Project senior director Susan Ryan about the importance of creating an environment in long-term care that fosters a sense of comfort and belonging in both residents and staff of all races, religions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.
The conversation between Adams and Ryan took a slightly more philosophical and personal route than recent podcast guests. Adams thoughtfully expressed his views on sensitive topics and called on eldercare leaders to take a more personal, intentional, and active approach to reform.
That daily, individual commitment by leadership to create a community grounded in empathy is the foundation to constructing an inclusive, equitable, and diverse environment where individual experiences, cultures, backgrounds and challenges are recognized, valued and celebrated, Adams said.
Practical and meaningful changes to the long-term care business model must start with a systemic change in perspective by predominantly white, patriarchal leaders and the courage to make difficult decisions to do things differently. There also must be authentic and compassionate exchanges among elders, families, and staff. Asking questions, listening to the answers, and implementing changes that prioritize the whole person are necessary and critical to the reform process, he said.
By fostering a sense of belonging and encouraging decisive action by local decisionmakers, Adams hopes that long-term care communities can begin transitioning into warm, loving, inclusive homes where elders are revered, and their capabilities and wisdom acknowledged. At the same time, staff must be respected, empowered, and compensated appropriately.
Adams admits that creating that sense of belonging and empathy is not easy to achieve under the current eldercare system. But dilly-dallying is not the answer. Leaders can start making important incremental changes every day that will have a lasting impact on care.
Adams’ insights are raw, powerful — and much needed. The Green House Project applauds his authenticity and pluck to articulate some hard truths. His ideas offer us a clear jumping off point to get started immediately on the road to reform.
Listen to the Elevate Eldercare podcast on Spotify, Apple, Stitcher, or via The Green House Project’s website, www.thegreenhouseproject.org/podcast.