Editor's desk: In a sea of issues, looking at what is most important

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James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
It was both flattering and intimidating. At the LeadingAge convention, someone asked me to state my hopes for the future of long-term care. What a thrill to be asked, but with all the possibilities, where should one start?

On one hand, I know all about the profession's challenges and threats, now and for the years ahead. There's not a day that goes by that we don't confront how to best address heavy issues.

But I also quickly realized that the longer I spent trying to formulate the perfect answer, the more elusive it would become. Extra phrases and clauses would be liable to be scotch-taped at every possible juncture.

So with minimal preparation, I sat down before the camera and decided to blurt out what I felt to be true and important. It worked.

I don't have a transcript of the clip, but I can tell you it went something like this:

“I hope that long-term care workers realize that even though there's a lot of important work being done regarding policy, reimbursement, legal, regulatory and technology matters, no matter what goes on with them, none of it matters if the human touch is lost or forgotten. Everything else is secondary.”

Great progress can be made in any of the areas listed above, but if quality, face-to-face interaction is ever missing or taken for granted, nothing else matters. Nothing.

Sure enough, it was much easier to speak quickly from the heart on camera about the topic than to try to craft a more polished answer — well-worn backspace and delete keys at the ready.

Acting compassionately is going to be your biggest indicator of success. That compassion is likely the reason you got into the field. Your residents and their families will provide validation. Always remember that people will not always remember you so much for what you said but how you made them feel.

So, yes, keep up with the deep issues, continue to read “How To” articles, soak up advice from the experts. Deeply explore new products and services.

But never forget that your greatest source of success already lies within.

As you reflect on the 2011 that was and look ahead to what you might do new in 2012, make sure the personal touch to caregiving is never lost. That's what I hope for.
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