Possibly the granddaddy of popular self-help books was The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, first published in 1952. Peale's basic tenet was that no matter how difficult your circumstances, there was always a way to form a positive outlook about them which, in itself, would empower your response to the situation. I remember many "cynical" grade school kids (yes, we had them even back then) making fun of this as "Pollyannaish"; I was one of them. Having seen a bit of life since then, I better appreciate and comprehend Peale's philosophy, although I might personally choose to express it as "you play with the cards you're dealt." Certainly my appreciation of "positive thinking" has only been enhanced by my observations of the long-term care industry in recent years. There's no need here to belabor the "negatives," which have been rehearsed in these pages many times. I'd prefer to point to some examples of a positive outlook expressed by people who, despite all the odds, choose to confront problems and attempt to solve them. You will see several examples of this in Nursing Homes/Long Term Care Management, both in the current issue and the next.
Read, for example, about the staff of Isabella Geriatric Center in New York, which has invented its own processes and tools to combat the biggest legal liability issue facing nursing homes today: resident falls. Look at our Special Report, a commentary (originally published by The George Washington University's Wertlieb Educational Institute for Long Term Care Management) noting the dramatic fall-off in applicants for NHA licensure and describing steps current administrators can take to improve their lot in life. Or, check out the story in next month's issue of a liability insurer called Royal & SunAlliance which, rather than content itself with raising premiums and running away from the field, developed a working partnership with a nursing home to help upgrade its safety procedures. And wait until you see some of the entries from our 2001 OPTIMA Awards, both the "winner" featured next month and those in subsequent issues. My sneak preview has disclosed several inspiring stories of nursing home staffs taking it upon themselves to create exciting new programs to improve resident care.
All of these stories represent instances of people attacking problems, rather than submitting to them, no matter how discouraging they appear to be. Such stories show that long-term care is one field that is putting Peale's ideas to the test, and more than a few folks are drawing winning hands. NH