Leap of faith

I used to roll my eyes when someone would trot out that old chestnut, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But, having emerged scarred but unbroken from a two-year run of challenges, I now embrace the truism. No one gets out of this life without some measure of hardship, pain, and trials. I am stronger. And, surprisingly, not bitter or beaten down. Yeah, well, you’re thinking: So what? What does this have to do with me? And, who are you? Let me explain.

Following a job layoff that tested my faith in myself, the publisher of Long-Term Living took a leap of faith in tapping me to take up the editor’s mantle, given that my background lies not in long-term care (LTC) but in hospitality, specifically hotel management and design. I bring 20-plus years of experience as a business-to-business journalist to a highly respected publication that has been led by an impressive roster of editors-in-chief. Obviously, I have a fairly steep learning curve ahead of me, unless you count my personal experiences as a relative to LTC residents. As such, I have witnessed the best and worst practices the industry offers. But those recollections are for future columns.

Former colleagues have questioned my enthusiastic embrace of this new calling. “From boutiques to bedpans,” one friend quipped. However, I’ve quickly figured out that the LTC and hospitality industries are not-so-distant cousins. Both are dynamic and evolving and must react nimbly to economic, demographic, and social forces. Many recent programs and initiatives introduced in the hotel industry, for example, are being adopted in LTC facilities, and vice versa. Business development, staff training solutions, residential-type design, sustainability, and targeted marketing, to name just a few, are subjects common to both industries. But what excites me about this transition is the opportunity to cover critical issues that affect the health, safety, and well-being of those I care for, both now and in the future (as well as myself-just last month my AARP card arrived in the mail…).

As I get up to speed on everything from MDS 3.0 and RUGs to culture change and infection control, I will count on a strong support team of experienced and talented editors, backed by our stable of industry and association partners and expert columnists to assist me in keeping our fingers on the pulse of the LTC community. It is an awesome responsibility.

I can’t think of a better time to join Long-Term Living than with the publication of this issue. This month we showcase the annual OPTIMA Award, honoring an LTC facility program that enriches quality of life by providing an experience that is pleasing to residents and in which they thrive (resident-centered care and services). This year’s winner, Mather Pavilion, Evanston, Illinois, found success in dramatically reducing staff turnover and improving resident care by developing a workforce initiative program, called LEAP (Learn, Empower, Achieve, Produce). Turn to page 20 and be inspired by their achievement. I know I was.

Finally, as a newcomer to this industry, I welcome your suggestions and comments. Drop me a line at psheehan@iadvanceseniorcare.com or call me at (216) 373-1208. From the warm welcome I’ve already received, I’m encouraged to make my own leap of faith.

Patricia Sheehan, Editor-in-Chief Long-Term Living 2010 September;59(9):8

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