Chance created the situation; genius made use of it.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

I admit, I haven’t read Tolstoy’s lengthy tome, War and Peace. But I recently saw the above quote from the book, and it got me thinking about how we in senior care are now managing the recovery part of our lengthy war with the pandemic. 

Vaccines are here, and we’re getting residents and staff inoculated. We’re regrouping on resident and employee wellness and thinking about how to work through the psychological distress that everyone has been exposed to. We’re dealing with the repercussions related to months of operational and financial challenges. And we’re starting to dig our way back to … 

To what? 

I keep hearing terms like “the new normal,” but what does that mean? I’m not sure there ever was a “normal.” And if there was, I’m not sure it was working so well. So, it seems to me that the silver lining in all this could be to take this opportunity to create and shape something better. 

As we move into, and through, the pandemic recovery process, this would be a great time for senior care leaders and their teams to reflect on the past year to assimilate and summarize key learnings AND think about the future through a new lens.

Start by conducting an After Action Review (AAR). If you’re not familiar with this process, I can summarize it simply as a way to reflect on an event and learn from it! The World Health Organization outlines four objectives for AARs:

  • Review the actions undertaken at each phase of the event to help identify actions that worked well, as well as those that worked less well and why.
  • Demonstrate the functionality of a facility’s capacities in preparing for, detecting, and responding to public health events.
  • Identify the corrective actions needed to institutionalize any lessons which emerge from the management of such events.
  • Address the challenges made evident through the AAR.

In addition to reflecting and learning from our past actions, it’s also a good time to think about future possibilities. What we know about crisis situations is that, because there is such a heightened sense of urgency, it’s easier for our brain to let go of the old, entrenched ways of doing things and develop fresh, innovative ideas. It’s easier to carve out something new and better. 

The future favors the prepared. So, consider getting your leadership team together to discuss these questions. 

In response to the pandemic:

  1. What did we do well and what could we have done better?
  2. What are our key learnings?
  3. What operational changes do we need to make to be better prepared for similar situations?
  4. What innovations and genius moves could we implement to make use of what we’ve learned from this situation?

The disruption and uncertainty of COVID-19 plunged us into crisis. But leaders who push innovative thinking can turn predicament into possibility to emerge stronger than before. How will this next year play out for you and your team as you shift from responding to recovering to revitalizing your organization?

Nancy Anderson, R.N., MA, is the SVP of Engagement Solutions for Align. In her role, she provides strategic leadership and supports development of solutions to help providers successfully build and sustain a culture of engagement.