Robert "Bob" Lane
Robert "Bob" Lane
Robert “Bob” Lane Credit: Captured Moments Photography

Long-term care must prioritize and invest in facility leaders so they have the skills needed to motivate staff through what’s likely the most turbulent time in the industry’s history, according to a top association executive. 

“There is a need for continued leadership development — never more important than now,” Robert “Bob” Lane, president and CEO of the American College of Health Care Administrators, told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News this month. “Leaders inspire and we need our leaders to continue to be inspired and inspiring.” 

Lane took over his own leadership role in early September and has served as the association’s immediate past board chairman and a board member. He succeeds Bill McGinley, who retired earlier this summer after more than three years as ACHCA’s top executive.

Long-term care organizations are facing a host of challenges during the COVID-19 public health crisis, including a historic staffing problem exacerbated by widespread agency price gouging and a “seemingly schizophrenic approach” on vaccine mandates and visitation from the federal government, according to Lane. With all those challenges being thrown at leaders, he said it’s critical for administrators to refine their skills and understand the role they play in a building’s culture.

“It’s about being able to cultivate or grow one’s own professional network. Nobody is out there on an island. Anybody who thinks they are is going to struggle mightily and ultimately burnout,” he said, noting the college’s leadership resources for administrators. 

Lane added that, while a manager can create order, a leader creates stability out of chaos. He explained “when a staffer, regardless of what role [they’re in], has a comfort level and a trust in that stability even in the face of chaos,” that allows the entire building to approach problems and challenges in a more collaborative and effective way. 

Lane is also choosing to be an optimist regarding what the future holds for long-term care. “It’s full of possibility,” he said, if providers take advantage of opportunities. 

“It’s about being agile, having a clear understanding of not what’s going on just internally but also keeping an eye on external forces they’re dealing with,” Lane said. “Having a mindset of being opportunistic, whether it’s in new services that may come available in their markets, alliances or partnerships that they can take advantage of …. There’s opportunities there regardless.” 

Lane said he is also excited about the college hosting its first annual convocation in more than two years. It takes place next March in New Orleans. 

“Our association is about helping our members and those who want to become part of it to develop professionally,” Lane said. ACHCA has more than 1,900 individual members and over 1,100 professional members, according to its latest annual report.  “We’re just extremely excited about the future for our association and our profession.”