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The Momentum of Culture Change

by Peter Reed

Since joining Pioneer Network as its new CEO just over 10 weeks ago, I have had the chance to experience first hand all of the momentum that is driving culture change to extend its reach and deepen its impact.  I have visited many homes and seen both challenges and new approaches first hand, and I have spoken with numerous leaders and change agents who are promoting culture change.  Their passion and commitment to serving elders is obvious.  When I first started, I was well aware of the importance of culture change in long-term care and person-centered care as concepts that are critical to helping create homes where people actually want to live, everyday.  Still, it wasn't until the beginning of August, when I joined over 1,300 culture change leaders at the Pioneer Network National Conference in St. Charles, MO, that I realized what is really going on in the field – what culture change really represents. Together, we are driving nothing less than a social movement to revolutionize the way elders live so they may thrive.  In this light, culture change and person-centered care become much more than concepts.  These concepts become a way of life that we, as providers, advocates, researchers, regulators, and policy makers, are exploring, testing and promoting.  At the highest level, as more and more people begin to recognize the importance of changing the culture of aging to enable choice and dignity for all elders, society itself can change.  In this way, culture change becomes a social movement with many champions that share a common vision, a common language and a common respect for elders; we already have innovative thinkers and inspirational leaders bringing voice to our cause.  It is exciting to be a part of something so significant and it is an honor for each of us to be leading this social change.  With this privilege also comes responsibility.  Each of us must help the message of culture change extend its reach and deepen its impact by helping to raise awareness of this cause.  Each of us need to talk to our family, friends, colleagues and social networks in the community to help them understand the importance of promoting choice, dignity and respect for elders.  In doing so, we will enlist their help and nurture the social movement with more committed advocates.  Over time, we will assure that the importance of this cause is recognized widely and embraced as the only humane way for each of us, in every generation, to live our lives throughout its entire natural course.  I personally look forward to working with you to help cultivate a stronger awareness of culture change that can have a deep impact on the lives of all elders.