Long Term Care

The National Standard

The long-awaited national standard for long-term care homes has been published, now what? Well, nothing really.

We are to familiarize ourselves with its contents. I have studied it and I think the technical committees have done a great job to capture society’s expectations. However at this point it is just that, nice words that express ideals!

It is now for the organizations who have responsibility for long-term care services to create the necessary legislation to make it a reality.

Then still nothing, because legislation alone is just a concept on paper, it needs people to make it become real. And that is where thinking in systems comes in. I have said it so many times lately I can hear you groan, there she goes again with her hobby horse – systems!

Learning From The Military

I hang my head in shame, but it is true! Many of you may not know but by a strange coming together of circumstances, I found myself in the military procurement industry early in my career. That means I was part of a team of people who took some of taxpayer money to manufacture arms and ammunition, sometimes a lot of taxpayer money – and that while there were urgent social needs like schools, hospitals, and poverty reduction programs that were not implemented.

But we felt justified, the arms and ammunition was needed to shoot the enemy full of holes before the enemy shot us full of holes. At least I was working on the good side, the enemy were terrorists, not Freedom Fighters as they claimed to be.

The enemy was getting good at shooting us full of holes – they were trained and armed by “regimes” who wanted the very lands that we had quietly claimed as ours and now was exploiting to add to our wealth.

As the enemy became more determined to liberate what was really their birthright, we, the “good guys” tried to ensure our survival by having superiority, and as a result were buying and developing ever more sophisticated weaponry – and they depended on systems! And I got quite good at developing them.

As it turned out, it has been extremely valuable when I later worked in Healthcare.

If it is new – it has never existed before!

Much of what the people needed to shoot their fellow human beings full of holes first, before they get shot full of holes by the other fellow human beings, did not exist yet!

It is not like you can take your Sears catalog, sit in your favorite reading room in the yard behind the kitchen and instead of dreaming of a powered Kenwood lawnmower or a quilting table allowing you to stitch to the edge, you now order a class E nuclear-electric destroyer, that uses the uranium fuel rods designed for low temperature environments by the Alberta National Propulsion Systems, recently become the leading supplier of such systems when Alberta separated from Canada. The destroyer must be equipped with latest low-altitude laser tracking systems that can identify the latest Sudanese drones manufactured in South Africa, based on the top-secret hyper-quiet Israeli radar-invisible construction methodology. In the event that the Northern Territories do carry out their threat to invade Alberta, they will activate Project Raven and start manufacturing fuel rods in their new facility in Botswana using Uranium mined in Zimbabwe under UN mandate 549.

Of course the above description is entirely fictitious, to stress the fact that the requirement is for something entirely new – the HSO national standard for long-term care services spells out the requirement for a system that will turn that user requirement into a reality.

We must 1) design (visualise) the system needed, 2) find the necessary suitably qualified people, equipment and procedures, information systems and the finances, and 3) then apply the appropriate project management skills to ensure that this system is in place and on budget, before the next elections when the Freedom Party takes over and decimates the budget for seniors to pay for climate change projects, and the enemy gets their system together first and starts shooting us full of holes, which in our case might be the new mushroom 2003 virus pandemic brought into the country by migrants from Ubiscistan recently destroyed by wildfires triggered when the Tibetan Spy Balloons were shot down by accident by school children practicing for the annual slingshot festival (pardon the tongue-in-cheek bit at the end).

The Poor Attempt at Humor

Please forgive my poor attempt at humor to fend off accusations of being in love with systems thinking. The intention is to open your thinking to new possibilities.

The need is real and urgent, the next pandemic could be a variant of the ebola virus brought in by soldiers sent to rescue family members of refugees from Pakistan or Afghanistan.

We can be sure that the trained staff don’t exist, nor are the procedures and equipment. We have now way of measuring the performance of the system – is it doing what we want? Well we can’t monitor a system that we have no idea what it looks like! Do we even have the money? Of course how can we know what it will cost when we don’t know yet what it will look like? How long will it take to put the system in place, it takes time to train people and build the supporting systems. Do we have an emergency implementation plan so that we can defend ourselves should the enemy get their act together first and start shooting us full of holes, i.e. the next pandemic strikes in the middle of the wildfire season, we have no water, so no power grid, Internet, or cell phone service.

As we asked at the start of this post

The long-awaited national standard for long-term care homes has been published, now what?

It is time to do some Systems thinking – you need strategic planning, systems analysis and a good dose of Project Management. This is serious stuff, it is not the same as planning lunches for the cubs weekend campout!

The risk is real!

The Irony

It took a catastrophe to stir us to action to come up with the standard!

It has taken warfare analogies to illustrate the need for systems thinking in its implementation.

But the time that we can do things that will enhance the quality of the lives of our seniors, which is the real goal, is limited, it is now, we seniors don’t live forever.