This month, our great community will be accepting the 2014 Governor’s Award for Quality Care in Healthcare Facilities. We can never do anything without a little flare here, so a small team got together to decide how to make the event memorable.

During the course of this meeting, I was reminded for different reasons why working with this group of people is so enjoyable. I hope you experience the same sort of goofy professionalism we have managed to create here.

The key ingredient to a meeting like this is laughter and creativity. To make a long story short, after many crazy ideas (ranging from a marching band to cotton candy machines), we settled on “Beyond Black and White.” That may seem like an unusual theme for an award on quality, but it fits perfectly because it describes much of what we do generally in long-term care, and particularly at our community.

As we got to thinking more about who we are and what we do, we realized nothing is black and white around here; in fact, we go BEYOND BLACK AND WHITE in most everything we do. We work together to find solutions, we struggle with finding balance and, at times, we have to make exceptions or go that extra mile to make things special.

Nurses, many times, want black and white answers and solutions. It’s fun to weave our worlds together and push them to find solutions that are more creative and not as clinical or black and white. The movement in long-term care is full of color and adventure and is no longer about black and white tasks to check off. Our journey to creating a world of color, no matter how small each idea may be, is about listening to those we care for. Listening to residents, of course, but also listening to the people we work with every day, as they make the biggest difference in the work we do.

This award focused on quality, but when they were here to evaluate our nomination, we told stories. We introduced them to team members, residents and families, and each story had its own bright color. I never get tired of telling our story, and each time I do, I am reminded of how we are beyond black and white here. Things are never as they seem. There is always more to uncover. How grateful am I to call a community “home” where spirits are bright and our colors are vivid.

I hope your community is also “beyond black and white” and you interject color in your work every day.

Julie Thorson is the president and CEO of Friendship Haven in Fort Dodge, IA.