Simone Sinek, author of the book Start With Why, wrote that companies that deeply understand why they are in business are much more effective and last longer than those that just want to produce a product. He used the Wright brothers as an example. The Wright brothers were not well funded, nor did they have college degrees; they owned a bicycle shop. But they had a deep belief that if they could make their ship fly, it would change the world – and that dream of flight drove them. Meanwhile, Samuel Pierpont Langley, a contemporary of the Wright brothers, was also trying to be the first to fly. The Smithsonian had funded him, and the New York Times followed his exploits. He had money to spare and lots of people on his side. But his “why” was to become famous by being the first to master flight. Of course we know the end of that story.

Sometimes it takes a challenge, like being faced with fewer dollars, to push us into being our most creative; we find a way because we must. We are at a point in hospice care and in health care in general where the innovators will be the ones who come up with the new ideas required by this changing financial landscape and by the new generation of hospice patients and their families.

The coming generation of patients wants something different from what their parents wanted. The “greatest generation” was more stoic in their approach to life and death, but the baby boomers’ needs and expectations are very different. They want to know how they can continue to have intimate relationships with others, how to be medicated and not in pain, and they are more open to alternative ways of care beyond straight Western medicine.

Adult daughters are typically making the decisions for both their children and their parents today. These caregivers have done their Internet research and will want to know why you’re not giving Dad the massage therapy that the hospice down the street offers.

How can we best help them? Going forward, we must be much more flexible, much more customer-focused and much more humble. In the past, not many people understood good end-of-life care and we were seen as angels, but that has changed as this generation’s expectations have raised the bar. We in hospice must make sure we are changing along with, and indeed ahead of, our customers to be successful. We must, as Jim Collins said in his groundbreaking book Built To Last, “preserve the core and stimulate progress.”

Post By: Patti Moore


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