Jun 01, 2018

Why We Need Chief Elder Officers in Aged Care

I covered this story in 2015, but it is just as relevant today as ever, in fact one could argue more so. Why? Because so few organisations are embracing the role of seniors in their management of aged care.

I am inspired by the recent appointment of a Chief Elder Officer at Revera Inc, Ms Hazel McCallion. Her appointment, a first for Revera, demonstrates their commitment to ageing with purpose and the elders of their community.

I urge you to take a few minutes to see and hear from Hazel to learn about her conviction to living with purpose in the following YouTube video.

Revera Inc is an aged care provider in Canada and they are doing great things to challenge our approach to aged care and how to raise the discussion on integrating the communities.

Hazel is a former Mayor of Mississauga, so is well credentialed to be a CEO for Revera. In her Mayoral role, one she held for 12 consecutive years, she oversaw the growth and development of Canada’s 6th largest city. She left this role at age 93. Her role as the Chief Elder Officer is, as she explains in the video, to advocate for the residents of Revera.

We often think of a CEO as the head of an organisation. This role is often revered and respected in the world of work.

But there is no reason why we can’t have another CEO in the guise of Chief Elder Officer in the aged care environment. We can, like Revera, add to our organisational chart a role for some of the more experienced in our community and partner with them in shaping the future of ageing. In this way we can truly honour and respect them as advocates for better care, facilities and innovation.

Other innovation at Revera

Revera is doing more to reshape our thinking on ageing than just the creation of the Chief Elder Officer role. They have also developed a signature program titled ‘Age is More‘. This program is challenging ageist stereotypes. The program has its own website – www.ageismore.com – and is well worth a visit.

The website for ‘age is more’ has some great quizzes to challenge your thinking, age awareness tips, useful research, case studies – it is well worth a visit, as is their YouTube site. Join them in celebrating the ‘ageless spirit’.

Disruption like this is one way to drive change

In my blog on Disruption the New Nirvana, I spoke about the need for leaders to explore the role that disruption can play in driving new ways of thinking and doing. Here is one way that Revera has used disruption to better represent and understand their customers.

What better way to listen to, understand and honour your customers in aged care, and to ensure you deliver on the promise of customer directed care, than to invite a customer to be a Chief Elder Officer.

So I urge you to give the idea of a Chief Elder Officer some thought when next you are thinking about better ways to engage, include and empower those you care for.

Update: Hazel is still going strong and celebrated her 97th year this February (2018).


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