He answered with confidence and insight. He had fought in one of the wars and knew his history on the others. I shamefully could only answer one or two questions.

We were participating in a game designed to stimulate cognitive ability and expand thinking. I did not fare well being paired against my 78-year-old partner. At first, he rapid fired the answers, and I mumbled mine. In time, we started working together and afterwards we shared stories and learnings from our life experiences. Human beings coming together, the game designed to stimulate our memories, actually stimulated our hearts.

I then walked around the Thrive Center and watched human-centered design in action. If you turn to Wikipedia, human-centered design (HCD) is defined as a design and management framework that develops solutions to problems by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process. Human involvement typically takes place in observing the problem within context, brainstorming, conceptualizing, developing and implementing the solution innovation.

I changed the word from solution to innovation above since that is what is needed for today’s environment. Innovation can be seen in two ways: Non-disruptive, which is taking current solutions and ideas and improving them to meet the current or future market, while disruptive innovation fundamentally changes the market. I saw both touring the Thrive Center. I saw solutions that created a sense of community, human engagement and safety.

I saw stories that made me smile as they celebrated living life to the fullest. I had my own moment when I learned about how one innovation is using the same technology as what is used for transit systems to monitor individuals with dementia. The system is disrupting wandering safety systems utilizing technology outside of healthcare. I thought ahead of what I am facing with my own loved one, and felt gratitude.

My most poignant moment was sitting next to a woman who had on the virtual reality glasses.  Today she was traveling to London, England. She shared with me that she had never been able to travel due to various reasons. But through the glasses, she can see the world and experience it as she always wanted to, but was unable.

With a twinkle in her eye, she said, “I just wish I could take pictures of all the places I have gone so I can share with my grandchildren.” Her comment demonstrates the human desire to share what is thought to be a singular experience to a connected experience.  What an opportunity for HCD!

Thinking broader and differently is the framework of the Thrive Center. Their vision is a place where living is not just surviving, but a whole new approach to aging fully-heart, mind, body and soul.  Sheri Rose, CEO of the Thrive Center states, “The Thrive Center’s mission is to create that immersive experience where technology becomes engaging.  We focus on living & thriving and not aging and dying. Technology is an enabler of applications that can enrich quality of life.”  

What I found amazing was the spontaneous gathering that occurred throughout the center.  I watched, thinking this is what we must work to create. I found myself drawn into organic moments that fostered a sense of connection.  It was through technology, music, writing and games being utilized to stimulate memories, capture legacy and create ease of living that connections happened.  So easy and yet so powerful.

Albert Einstein stated, “Live life to the fullest. You have to color outside the lines once in a while if you want to make your life a masterpiece. Laugh some every day. Keep growing, keep dreaming, and keep following your heart. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”   

In serving others, we have to think about the need for human-centered design and creating spaces where the human spirit can thrive. Have you designed into your strategic plan a “Thrive” plan for those you serve?

Martie Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ, is the chief nursing officer at Medline Industries Inc. and a corporate advisory council member for the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel.