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ERS's Ways of Working: Progressive Thinking

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We are living in an exciting time during which knowledge changes by the day. Also changing, if we’re open to it? How we use that knowledge. Enter one of Episcopal Retirement Services' Core Values: Progressive thinking. Our Core Values are central to our Ways of Working, and therefore guide everything we do. Here’s a closer look at why the mindset of “progressive thinking” matters so much to the culture at ERS, and how we’re making the most of it—for staff, our residents and the community at large.

Challenging the Status Quo

The world today is different than it was even five years ago. As a learning organization, we believe that it’s incumbent on us to not only be aware of these changes but also to proactively adapt to them so that we can continue to provide the best services and support for older adults.

Explains ERS President & CEO Laura Lamb of this ethos, “Progressive thinking means you are open to innovation and change and new ways of doing things. We understand that learning is a journey, and along the way, we will all make mistakes and that’s part of the process.”

Progressive Thinking In Play

One shining example of progressive thinking in practice at ERS? Our contributions to the launch of Dementia Inclusive Cincinnati, a city-wide initiative to make Cincinnati one of the country’s most dementia-inclusive cities. “It’s admittedly a lofty goal, but it shows our desire to be at the table making sure our restaurants, banks, grocery stores, beauty salons— you name it—are safe havens for people who have dementia and Alzheimer’s,” proposes Lamb.

At its core, progressive thinking at ERS is a top-down commitment—starting with Lamb herself, who recently delivered an informational workshop presentation aimed at helping library employees be more accepting of people living with cognitive loss. This included teaching empathy tips and tools for interacting with people with dementia. “We want to make sure this segment of society is not forgotten and to take the shame away from a diagnosis of dementia…[The library employees] understood they could respond in a different way to get a better outcome,” Lamb reveals.

An Inside Job

DIC_PROGRESSIVETHINKINGIn addition to community outreach, progressive thinking is also alive and well internally at ERS in the form of an interdisciplinary team designed to address problems. Because while the progressive thinking approach acknowledges that mistakes happen, it’s also driven by the imperative to prevent them from happening again. “We create a culture where people share what we call their ‘near misses’ so we can learn from them,” says Lamb. “In our industry, people always do that when it comes to clinical issues. But we do it in all departments, even a cyber issue that may come up. We use the same process.”

Lamb also shares that progressive thinking is easier when you believe in what you do, a characteristic embodied by the servant leadership team at ERS. “Without question, every one of the servant leadership team has a deep passion for serving elders. That’s what makes us progressive. This work gives us joy. We want to advance conversations locally and nationally to make sure elders are not forgotten,” she asserts.

It follows that ERS actively seeks out employees with the same passion for their work. “We can train you on any part of your job, but we can’t make you like elders. We want people who are really excited about serving people who are really cool and we can learn from,” concludes Lamb.

While sticking with the status quo may seem easier on the surface, we know it’s better at ERS. We're proud that our core value of progressive thinking means we’re not only open to improving but truly galvanized by the prospect of doing so.


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Kristin Davenport
March 11, 2019
Kristin Davenport is the Director of Communications for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Kristin leads ERS’s efforts to share stories that delight and inspire through social media, online content, annual reports, magazines, newsletters, public relations, and events. Kristin earned her BFA in graphic design from Wittenberg University. She joined ERS in 2014 after a 25-year career as a visual journalist and creative director with American City Business Journals. Her role at ERS has ignited her passion for making Cincinnati a dementia-inclusive city, and she spends time with residents as a SAIDO® Learning lead supporter. Kristin is the executive producer and co-host of the Linkage Podcast for ERS. Kristin and her husband Alex live in Lebanon, Ohio, with their two daughters. She also serves as a Trustee and the President of the Lebanon Food Pantry and is a board member for ArtScape Lebanon, where she teaches painting and has an art studio, Indium Art.

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