Category Archives: Board

Strategic Planning Status Report

On Friday at our Community Meeting, Marvell Adams reported on the moving forward of our strategic planning process.  The slides appear below.

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As you cab see, we are making significant progress.  As you can also see, we continue to be ambitious, in the best sense of the word, in wanting to embrace the future, to be of service in the world, and indeed to change it.

 

Collington Director Marvell Adams reassures staff team that they are all “part of a large and close knit international family” and that “Collington stands firmly shoulder to shoulder with all of you”

Obviously, this is not as easy time for those of us who believe that all human beings are brothers and sisters, that diversity is a strength not a weakness, and that we are obliged to act in accordance with those beliefs.

It is important, and may become even more important as time goes by, that we feel part of a community that understands this, and can act appropriately based on it.

I am again proud of Collington, and hope that we can be a national model, as I here report the efforts made by our Director to support those who may need it.

Here is the full text of the letter sent by Marvell to the staff today.

January 30, 2017
 
Dear Member of the Collington Team,
 
Each and every one of you reading this is a part of a large and close knit international family here at Collington.  We represent numerous countries from all over the world and proudly celebrate that diversity throughout our community.
 
As you undoubtedly are aware, an executive order recently signed by President Trump placed a ban on immigration into the United States from certain countries.  This ban is currently being challenged within our judicial system.  Be that as it may, I feel it is important for you to know that Collington stands firmly shoulder to shoulder with all of you.  We welcome with open arms all individuals.
 
In writing this letter, I am reaffirming Collington’s commitment:
 
“To encourage and welcome all people without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by law, to live in our communities and to serve on our staffs and boards.”
–  Excerpt from our Values & Practices
 
As a reminder, you have access to our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which can help with a variety of personal concerns including legal matters.  You can utilize this service at no cost to you and confidentially by calling Carebridge Employee Assistance Program toll-free, 1-800-437-0911, for immediate consultation.  Brochures with more information can be picked up in Human Resources or by visiting http://www.myliferesource.com (website access code:  XEGKX).
 
Thank you for all you do in service to the Collington Family.
 
Sincerely,
 
Marvell Adams
Executive Director

Here is the cover note that Marvell sent to the Board of Directors with the above.  It includes some important background information.

Dear Collington Board Members,
 
Today I shared th[is] letter to all staff of Collington.  I am sharing with you as well for your information and knowledge of how we are supporting our staff.
 
For those that may not know, a significant portion of our staff are Muslim and/or immigrants and the recent executive order has many of them fearful even though they are all either naturalized citizens or permanent residents of the US.  As one staff member said to me today, “Collington could not exist without immigrants that come here to work.”
 
Thanks and be well.

Marvell

I would urge residents to share with friends in other communities who might find this a useful model.

I would also remind that there are online tools to help people with such issues, as discussed here.

Strategic Planning Engagement Report

Last week, at the Community Meeting, Executive Director Marvell Adams shared his presentation on the status of, and questions for, strategic planning.  I would strongly urge everyone to take a look at the whole thing.

Marvell presented one slide for each of the Working Group areas, focusing on questions that the groups have been and might focus on.  Here are two of particular interest to me, at least:

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Generally, I would make the point that these are intentionally big questions. They encourage not an incremental, but a blue sky approach to the future of our community, one that builds on our strengths, but that aims for a community much more engaged in the world.  This obviously reflects in part the sense that this is a different time.

Each of the slides lists the co-chairs of the Working Group, and I would urge you to think about these questions and give input and ideas.

A personal note:  I have occasionally been met by some resident skepticism about the ultimate decision-making process for the strategic plan.  As someone who has been a resident member of both iterations of this Committee, and have watched all its steps, I want to reassure you that huge respect is being given to resident ideas, values and the input process. I am absolutely confident that the ultimate plan will deeply respect this input — indeed would be simply impossible without it.

If anyone needs more reassurance, let anyone involved in the process let know — or join it yourself.

But, first of all, look at the whole presentation.

This slide shows all the areas of work.

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Thanks to all.

 

Research into the Value of Effort Has Lots of Lessons for Our Strategic Planning Process Including How We Work Together, and What Kind of Community We Work Towards.

The New York Times has an interesting article reporting research on the importance of engagement in helping people be “superagers.”  While I am not sure I like the phrase, with all its competitive implications, nonetheless the research is useful for those working to keep seniors engaged.

Specifically, the writer, Lisa Feldman Barrett, describes her imaging research into those with highest cognitive functioning in old age.

Our lab used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan and compare the brains of 17 superagers with those of other people of similar age. We succeeded in identifying a set of brain regions that distinguished the two groups. These regions were thinner for regular agers, a result of age-related atrophy, but in superagers they were indistinguishable from those of young adults, seemingly untouched by the ravages of time.

What are these crucial brain regions? If you asked most scientists to guess, they might nominate regions that are thought of as “cognitive” or dedicated to thinking, such as the lateral prefrontal cortex. However, that’s not what we found. Nearly all the action was in “emotional” regions, such as the midcingulate cortex and the anterior insula.

My lab was not surprised by this discovery, because we’ve seen modern neuroscience debunk the notion that there is a distinction between “cognitive” and “emotional” brain regions.

But the most interesting part of the analysis is prescriptive:

Of course, the big question is: How do you become a superager? Which activities, if any, will increase your chances of remaining mentally sharp into old age? We’re still studying this question, but our best answer at the moment is: work hard at something. Many labs have observed that these critical brain regions increase in activity when people perform difficult tasks, whether the effort is physical or mental. You can therefore help keep these regions thick and healthy through vigorous exercise and bouts of strenuous mental effort. My father-in-law, for example, swims every day and plays tournament bridge.

The road to superaging is difficult, though, because these brain regions have another intriguing property: When they increase in activity, you tend to feel pretty bad — tired, stymied, frustrated. Think about the last time you grappled with a math problem or pushed yourself to your physical limits. Hard work makes you feel bad in the moment

One way of looking a this from a patient partnering point of view is that really engaging to improve the institution or the system can make you feel “tired, stymied, frustrated.”  But it is worth it in terms of maintaining capacity.  (The article makes clear that really vigorous exercise is also helpful, a lesson I am less willing to internalize — maybe extra blog writing will compensate for lack of exercise, I certainly prefer it!)

But the author is explicit:  “This means that pleasant puzzles like Sudoku are not enough to provide the benefits of superaging. Neither are the popular diversions of various “brain game” websites.

The article also links to a paper here, which, quoting the abstract, explains that:

Reviewing converging evidence from cybernetics, animal research, cognitive neuroscience, and social and personality psychology, we suggest that cognitive control is initiated when goal conflicts evoke phasic changes to emotional primitives that both focus attention on the presence of goal conflicts and energize conflict resolution to support goal-directed behavior. Critically, we propose that emotion is not an inert byproduct of conflict but is instrumental in recruiting control.

So, the complexities of true engagement would appear to be very good for all of us — and probably also for management.  Disagreement among ourselves is not a bad thing — unless it is not resolved in a positive and helpful way that includes improvement.

I read this to mean, in our strategic planning process, that we should push ourselves and each other as much as we can, and that our goal and plan should be to build a community in which we all continue to do so.  That surely has relevance to all our working groups.

Reactions and thoughts welcomed.

Monday is the Education Launch of Collington’s Strategic Planning Process

This Monday, at 10 AM in the Auditorium, Collington really starts our community wide strategic planning process, with an educational presentation on “Trends in the Industry,” featuring Stephen Maag (bio on different site), of Leading Age (site here).  Leading Age is the national organization supporting and advocating for nonprofit ageing services organizations (strategic plan here.)  The planning process here is, of course, being led by a Board Subcommittee.  The process has extensive and expanding resident and staff participation.

The information Stephen Maag provides will be crucial in grounding the upcoming community-wide discussions and processes in a concrete understanding of what is going on, and experts’ perceptions of the changes, opportunities, and challenges we can expect to see.  These will help us shape an expansive and leadership vision, in which we all contribute to “together, transforming the experience of ageing,” as the Kendal slogan puts it, not just for ourselves, but for the world as a whole.

I for one I will be particularly interested in his perspectives on where the planning and vision gaps are — what we perhaps uniquely can bring to this national process, with our unique combination of Washington connections, policy and academic expertise, range of real world experience, and diversity.

By the way, those interested in seeing Maag’s presentation approach might find this YouTube video helpful.  He is clearly grounded in data.

As you know from the flier in your mailboxes, there are future additional educational programs already scheduled.  This is a very exciting time indeed for the community.  Be there at 10.