Date published: Thursday 20 June 2019
BY MARCIA BALZER
Brains flexed. Ideas sputtered to life. New perspectives were born over meal time conversations. Creativity crept out in unexpected moments. Dreams started to take shape.
This was the flavour of the annual gathering of the Baptist Care Australia family in Adelaide in May. We took two days out by the sea at Glenelg to contemplate the theme ‘Power of Imagination’, experiencing a plethora of ways to inspire, innovate, and influence in our daily work.
Keynote speaker Charlotte Rush talked us through the science of innovation, explaining how to unlock more inventive thinking by finding the frustrations of our customers and crushing our own assumptions by asking ‘What if the opposite were true?’ Charlotte even made a compelling case why we need to make our most important decisions in the early part of the day if we want to make consistently good choices.
Our international speaker May Bjerre Eiby made an impact with her quiet strength and steely resolve to deliver the highest quality of life possible to people living with advanced dementia. The story of her father’s experiences and death in residential care clearly explained her commitment to overturn current models of care in Denmark and set up her own care home based on principles of caring and compassion. Through techniques that reduce both medication and dementia symptoms, May set out her human-centred approach to making life with advanced dementia a positive experience for her residents.
Other program highlights included an important discussion around the opportunities for aged care reform arising from the Royal Commission and a proposed new residential funding model. Concurrent session discussions on family group conferencing and restorative practice, modern slavery, social impact investing and partnering with Indigenous communities were also praised by delegates.
There was a practical component to the program, with three 90-minute workshops designed to get delegates doing as well as listening.
I chose the ‘Artistry Unleashed’ workshop, taking to drawing for the first time in a good few decades with our conference Artist in Residence, Andrew McDonough. Andrew took us on a creative tour of the art and experiences of some of the homeless artists from Baptist Care SA’s Westcare centre in Adelaide. He made us brave enough to try, coaxed us to relive our childhood experiences of drawing, and challenged us to connect with a stranger over a sketch pad. It was a conference experience like no other!
Soon after the Rudd Government was elected in 2007, the Australia 2020 Summit was organised to bring Australian leaders together to “help shape a long-term strategy for the nation’s future”. Next year – in 2020 – our Baptist Care Australia annual conference visits Canberra where that Summit was held. It will be an opportunity for the leaders of our Baptist Care family to consider what’s changed since then, what challenges lie ahead, and how we can find the courage to meet those challenges together. I look forward to seeing you there!