Ten years ago, our small group of researchers and sector stakeholders began a deliberate journey to improve residential long-term care. As I think about the past ten years, Churchill’s words float in—the first quality that is needed is audacity. We started with a big idea—a 20-year horizon and a wide ranging scope—and with lofty aspirations for better care and quality of life. That idea was more than a little audacious. It did not occur to us that we might not succeed or that our goal was not shared by the majority or that we could not create a unique space for both improvements in care and exciting ideas to flourish. Neither did we appreciate the size of the task or the capacity building that would be needed. A decade later and perhaps half way—at least some way—into the journey, I am proud of what we have accomplished but more, I am eager to see us realize the significant potential that is there, ready to be tapped.
TREC’s core is a strong set of partnerships and relationships built with people from and responsible for the long-term care system. Those partnerships have matured and expanded to include our advisory groups of residents and family/friend caregivers, trainees, and international science experts. We now actively navigate between traditional science (ensuring our science is blue ribbon) and an arguably more socially responsible fully partnered science. The democratization of knowledge is a core value—the belief that research knowledge belongs to everyone, can be made useful, and can and will lead to change and improvements. We believe that in partnership this is achievable: that quality can be affordable and that solutions can be spread and scaled. In our shared work space, researcher and decision maker worlds overlap with common goals. We invest a lot of energy into this shared space as the key to our success—and we know that more energy will be required to grow and sustain those partnerships and that shared space as we go forward.
The hard evidence that we were and are on the right track will be ongoing measurable improvements in the lives of highly vulnerable and complex older adults, living their last stage of life in long-term care. We must mobilize the courage to continue being audacious.
"Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream." -Mark Twain
Dr. Carole A. Estabrooks