living your best to the end

Passion and healthcare, Passion in healthcare

together we care

Long Term Care and Retirement Communities Conference

Two of the themes of Together We Care, the conference on the future of Long Term Care and Retirement Communities: Passion in health, and passion for health.


Keynote, Paul Alofs is the CEO of one of the top 5 Cancer Reserch Centeres, Princess Margaret Foundation. But he’s also been Executive at the Walt Disney Company, was president of HMV music and is author of Passion Capital. He asks on twitter, in his book, and on stage, what is our greatest asset?

“Passion is the greatest asset we each have.”

In health care – be you provider, supporter, patient, caretiver – passion often gets wrung out in the process of getting through the day-to-day. Alofs, having raised 850 million dollars for the Foundation, remains committed to its power. In his (predictably) impassioned speach, he got the audience chuckling with this quote:

Elizabeth Taylor, to her 7th husband, “I won’t keep you long”

Alof delights and inspires with his 7 elements that make up the Passion Potion – detailed in his book:

  • Creed (Beliefs)
  • Culture
  • Courage
  • Brand
  • Resources
  • Strategy
  • Persistence

His spirit and energy echo Ontario Home Care Executive Director, Sue VanderBent’s words:

“What we need for the future is hope and optimism, and we have to learn to embrace living with risk. Someone may be competent in different levels: they may not be able to write cheque but can live alone.”

Alofs and VanderBent shake up conventional thinking – and no doubt that’s precisely what’s needed as we move forward into the new territory of living longer, with more chronic, complex conditions.

From healthy to chronic conditions to complex continuing care: the story of life

As our society wraps its head around a ‘continuum of care’ – through to long term and palliative – there is often uncertainty. Kind of like the computer producrs that promise innovation and reliability, but often fall short – so must we revist our expectations.

Another woman passionate about the care of our elderly, Dr Mary Lou Kelley, reminded in a workshop for Personal Support Workers in Long Term Care: ‘Every treatment (for frail seniors) is a on a trial basis.”

Of the health system, Sue VanderBent describes it as a Gordian Knot: so many work-arounds that it’s impossible to untangle. It has to be sliced apart and started over. What a great image and metaphor.


As Alofs says, there can – and should be – a passion for being responsive to making things better. And who’s to take the lead? This tweet, quoting Psychcologist, Dr Maggie Gibson says it all:

Maggie Gibson

And with that thought, a reminder of the importance of keeping us patients and families involved towards better health for all.


#TogetherWeCare Conference totalled 592,393 twitter impressions. To read all tweets:

You might also like: Dying at home: the way it used to be

©Kathy Kastner

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