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CHAASE Hosts 6th Annual Fall Forum: "The Return of Compassion in the Senior Care Field"

Dr. Vivian and Mary Tellis-Nayak
Dr. Vivian and Mary Tellis-Nayak

Thursday, September 10th, 2020 marked the date of the Center for Health Administration and Aging Services Excellence (CHAASE) Fall Forum, titled “The Return of Compassion in the Senior Care Field.”   Things were a little different this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the event was held virtually. 

The Center welcomed Dr. Vivian and Mary Tellis-Nayak, recognized leaders in the Long-Term Care field and authors of “Return of Compassion to Health Care.”  They shared their presentation and were represented by three experienced reaction panelists to discuss the importance of compassion in the field of health and aging services. The panelists consisted of Sondra Norder (President and Chief Executive Officer, St. Paul Elder Services), Fred Benjamin (Vice President of Strategic Relations and Partnerships, Lexington Health Care) and Duane Larson (Senior Vice President of Operations, Presbyterian Homes and Services).

Vivian and Mary communicated how no senior care community rises above the caliber, compassion, and commitment of its leadership. As people managers, they face a formidable challenge. Long-term care, more than other service professions, operates on a relational platform. Senior care creates communities where frail and older people are brought together to often spend the last years of their lives in a place, not always built to promote dignity and privacy. The social origin and setting of the staff who serve the elders can differ vastly in culture, education, age, and experience. We expect the managers to create a community from these diverse elements. Their background and training may not always adequately prepare them for the task. In addition, overbearing regulations and the predatory ways of lawyers make their task more difficult. Their training, professional requirements, and incentives lean heavily on compliance and avoiding liability rather than compassion and kindness. The need for leaders who demonstrate compassion to their caregivers typically has not been addressed by education or quality programs. We need to work to infuse a greater emphasis on the need for compassionate leadership.

Panelists and participants explored the following questions:

  • What is the current environment and challenges in the field today?
  • What are the foundational principles and benefits of compassion?
  • How does the concept of compassion connect with other practices in the field?   
  • How would the the return of compassion impact the work environment?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities ahead and how might we address them?
  • What are the new skill sets and talents required for advancing compassion for leaders?