How many grandparents do you want? How many grandparents do you have now? What is your grandparent numbers strategy? What is your target number of grandparents?
It sounds wrong, doesn’t it?
Can you see how this one simple word could contribute to a problem so big it needed a Royal Commission?
I don’t think it’s hard to see that if you’re using arms-length and dehumanising language to refer to the people you’re caring for as if they’re a pawn in a boardroom game of chess, how this might end up with actions that lead to the wheels falling off.
I believe this thinking is a big problem in the sector, and it’s a problem I’ve resolved myself by replacing the word bed with the word grandparent in my thoughts and heart when I need to make strategic decisions.
If I have to think about growth, I don’t think about how many beds should be the goal. I think about how many grandparents should be the goal – and if that is the goal, then I’d unquestionably need to have more grandparents because more grandparents deserve better care, not because Respect needs more ‘beds’!
If I think about grandparents and not beds, we grow with the real mission baked into that growth – that we must care for more older people because they deserve better care. If Respect comes to your community, the care must be better than before we arrived, otherwise we’ve failed.
If you’re an aged care provider, and you can’t say you’re doing that, then pack it in because older people don’t need you, that community doesn’t need you, and the sector doesn’t need you. No one needs your beds – they need your care.
I know people aren’t using the word beds with bad intentions, and I still use it if I’m factually talking about things (so I’m not being silly about it all). But I’d challenge all leaders in our industry: When you’re thinking about growth, plans, and strategy, ditch the word beds in your hearts and minds, and embrace a word that reflects what we’re all trying to do – provide better care for older loved ones who deserve that care.
Could one word change an entire industry? Is language that powerful?
I believe it is.