Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Moving Away From Groundhog Day

I’ve mentioned already that I am in the process of re-defining Imagine!’s purpose to better reflect where we are as an organization. I have been talking with employees at all levels of the organization, and I feel I am making progress to identify our true purpose, and have started to realize that so many of the descriptors used in our work don’t really do justice to what we aspire to.

What do I mean by that? Allow me to explain. . .

A system of care giving, especially long-term care giving, implies a certain acceptance of the status quo. If an organization is just providing care, it isn’t looking for change – it just wants to maintain. In that sort of mindset, the organization isn’t interested in the latest technology, it doesn’t promote growth, it doesn’t want things to be different. It just wants to stand pat.

I reject that approach for the individuals we serve. Sure we can, and will, offer comfort and care at life’s end. But what about everyone else? We work with individuals throughout their lives, individuals who have hopes and dreams, and I feel it is our duty to do everything we can to organize the world so they can reach those hopes and dreams. Our role is to position those we serve to extend the reach of their capabilities.

If we don’t operate with the expectation that the people we serve want to move beyond the status quo, I fear we will be supporting what I call a movement to sedentary behavior. I’m not interested in having my life be exactly the same ten years from now as it is today. I don’t want to be stuck in some horribly depressing version of “Groundhog Day.”

Can’t see the video? Click here.

I want to grow, enjoy new experiences, learn new things, listen to new music. I expect to deepen my understanding of the world, and likely form new opinions. I expect Imagine! to have the same expectations for the people we serve.

I am very uncomfortable with the idea that our purpose is strictly to deliver care. Imagine!’s purpose needs to go beyond just keeping things the same. This will be a challenge for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Medicaid provides most of the funding for the services we provide. The closest this funding stream comes to moving forward is using the word "habilitation" in service definitions. It is the very model of a status quo, maintaining wellness, long-term care giving approach. That is why all of us in the field need to continue to advocate for new ways of funding and delivering services. We need to continually question the way things are and start reaching for the way things should be.

Our purpose is not to give care. Our purpose is to extend one’s reach. There is a significant difference between those two roles and I believe firmly that the only role Imagine! can truly succeed at, the role where we genuinely improve the lives of those we serve, is the latter role. I can’t accept any less for this organization.

Then again, what do I know?

1 comment:

  1. Imagine if at the moment of the big bang the universe said, "Ah, that's good enough." There might be a beautiful star system, but nobody would be here to enjoy it. It's only through the process of change and evolution that we exist at all. I'm so glad Imagine!'s vision includes this idea of change for the people we work with.