January 19, 2018
Moore Mission Moments - The Watershed Group


by Patti Moore


What if most of what we know about the process of growing older is wrong? What if we could free ourselves from our presumptions about aging’s inevitable decline, and by doing so come to a new, richer understanding of what our late-life years could and should be?


Visionaries are those who see how tied they are to all we “know” – all the conventional assumptions we mostly accept without examination - and choose to cut that cord, to untether themselves from those limitations, and imagine a better world. From among them spring the innovators – the mavericks who kick-start revolutions and movements that change the world. Our aging society desperately needs its visionaries and innovators to lead the way, because so much of what we accept now is simply unacceptable – especially for those of us in the Baby Boomer generation who aren’t willing to settle for less from life than we’ve had in the past, and are searching for a greener horizon ahead.


Dr. Bill Thomas – author, performer, and expert on geriatric medicine – is one of those innovators, and he’s shaking up the status quo on aging at the precise moment it needs a good shake. His Eden Alternative project is about changing how we live our latter years – rejecting the soul-killing isolation that is the lot of too many of our seniors in favor of creating warm, vibrant connected communities, and offering meaningful activities that stimulate, in place of boredom and entropy. His combination of inspiration and can-do practicality is lifting all our eyes to the possibilities, and will make a positive impact on so many lives for years to come.


What does it take to be a Bill Thomas in Hospice? Caring is where it starts; mission is where it takes you. When you’re on fire with a sense of mission, what’s impossible is just another hurdle to fly over. I remember that feeling from the early days of hospice, that sense of powerful forward momentum that carried me over the many challenges we faced every day. Our office was a remodeled elevator shaft, a windowless space with walls that were 2 feet thick. We didn’t charge fees; it was a free service offered by our community hospital, Alachua General. Our annual budget was $40,000. We created the rules as we went along. Rejecting the status quo was exhausting yet exhilarating, because we knew we were holding a torch for those who would follow. Even on the roughest days, that felt like freedom. 


What might you create if you could untether yourself from your assumptions and dream bigger?  How can we all – as hospice leaders, healthcare workers, caregivers and human beings – get beyond the traditional frameworks and regulatory abyss that constrain our thinking, and be more like Dr. Bill?  It’s a question worth pondering. What I do know is that what we accept is what we get – and if we don’t raise our eyes occasionally, all we’ll ever see is what’s right in front of us.


 Dr. Bill Thomas and Patti Moore






The revolution in how we house and care for our elderly is upon us – and plenty of smart people are weighing in on what they see coming down the road.


Talking about revolutions -  (and Dr. Bill Thomas)… “KING FERRY, N.Y. — It’s an unlikely place to launch a war against the nursing home industry.

But here on the black-stone edge of a gloomy Cayuga Lake stood the pioneering geriatrician Dr. Bill Thomas, a few feet away from his weapon of choice in this battle: a 330-square-foot, plywood-boned home he calls a Minka.

“I spent my career trying to change the nursing home industry,” he said. “But I’ve come to realize it’s not really going to change. So now what I’ve got to do is make it so people don’t need nursing homes in the first place. That what this is about.”


How can we make hospice better? Ask the man who “graduated” from one:      
“After his amazing experience at the Mission Hospice, Roxburgh recently met with staff at the Langley Hospice to share some of the ideas he has for the new 15-bed stand-alone hospice planned for Langley.


Hospice isn’t run by the rules like a hospital, he points out.  “If you want to bring in outside food because you don’t like what’s on the menu one day, they are OK with that. I like to wake up and have a warm cup of soup at night. The nurses accommodated that. They accommodate to the individual’s needs and wants. It takes a special kind of person to be staff and volunteer at hospice.”


While there, Roxburgh implemented Float Fridays, which meant that every Friday, the staff would organize ice cream and pop and offer floats to residents who could have one.  “You’d be amazed how many people have never had a float before,” he said.”


Trends to watch in 2018 for senior housing -  per A PLACE FOR MOM.


When is a hospice more than a hospice?  When it’s also a community art gallery, as at Hospice of the Chesapeake: “Local women artists of all experience levels, from first time exhibitors to veteran professionals, will share their stories in images in Gallery 90’s new exhibit, “Her Stories: A Women’s Art Show,” curated by the Chesapeake Arts Center.  The exhibit will run from Jan. 9 to Feb. 16, 2018 in the art gallery that is located throughout the Hospice of the Chesapeake’s administrative building on the John & Cathy Belcher Campus at 90 Ritchie Highway, Pasadena, Maryland.”


Or when its pet therapy program helps to spearhead a community drive for much-needed supplies for the local animal shelter, as Nathan Adelson Hospice did.


And when it offers our young folks a chance to enjoy the glow of a generous act – and to connect with the elderly in our care, as happened at Tidewell Hospice:


What’s your hospice doing to create alliances and awareness in your community? I’d love to hear about it!  Send your stories, press releases, and announcements to: [email protected]

Working with several Boards of Directors and leadership teams to refresh their Mission and Vision, and develop their Strategic Plans this month.
My High Performance Group Coaching program is nearly ready to launch.  More to come!  Stay tuned!
Sometimes there is a Crimson lining, from the RiverCove Retreat Center
The Watershed Group
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