Julie Thorson

Does acceptance of “what is” indicate defeat? For a leader with competition as one of her top five strengths, I’ve struggled with this question the last few months. Maybe you have also.

To say leading in long-term care over the past 19 months has been a roller coaster would be an understatement. Lately, we’ve been wondering, “When will this end?” The obvious answer, of course, is it won’t “end.” We will live with the after effects of the coronavirus forever. 

However, as leaders it’s time to find a way to carry on, which got me thinking: Will we ever fully recover? Or will we constantly be in a state of healing? Carry on, march on, not simply hang on … like the tips of our fingers will suddenly give way and we will fall.  

The scars from leading during this crazy time will remain. Sure, they may fade, but it’s important to acknowledge the scars and damage this time has left. 

I’d like to say we’ve turned some sort of corner, but the truth is the unknown continues to plague us, and we are likely one of the only fields where we continue to be punished for living with COVID-19. The standards set for us are not realistic. We will always search for unwavering optimism despite constant regulation. 

I believe we are healing. Slowly. We will do what is right. We will continue to see the impact on our residents and on our team members. I do not think I need to list the ways in which we have all been impacted. You all live them. 

There are many team members who have joined our team during the pandemic. They know no other life but a life for our residents with restrictions. The residents they serve have never fully seen their caregivers’ smiling faces. They may never see an unmasked face. 

The pain in that isn’t lost on any of us. We look for new ways to smile with our eyes. Leading people who rely on human interaction and connection as a way of providing quality care and expecting nothing to change is ridiculous. We know what is right. We know what is compassion. 

We are healing and we will overcome, but acknowledgment rather than punishment would be a powerful step forward. 

There are 10 words total in this month’s famous quote. Reading every month this leader’s quotes has been a great reminder of the power of words and our ability to overcome. Have you figured out who the leader is? I’ve quoted the same national thought leader in every 2021 column. 

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Julie Thorson was the 2018 recipient of the LeadingAge Dr. Herbert Shore Outstanding Mentor of the Year award. Thorson is currently a coach for the Leading Age’s Larry Minnix Leadership Academy.  Her “Living Leadership” blog has been recognized as a “Best New Department” Bronze Award winner by the American Society of Health Publication Editors. The president and CEO of Friendship Haven, a life plan community in Fort Dodge, IA, Thorson is a coach’s daughter at heart. A former part-time nursing home social worker, she is a licensed nursing home administrator and has completed Leading Age’s Leadership Educator Program.  

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.