Alumnus Story — Ian Li
Ian Li is developing a service that will allow seniors to have groceries delivered for free from the stores of their choice. It’s just one of several initiatives he is pursuing to improve seniors’ lives.
Title: Clinical Project Manager
Employer: Villa Cathay Care Home
Ian Li originally went into nursing because he wanted to make the world a better place. For several years he worked as a registered nurse at Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody, assisting patients with severe brain injuries, and at a long-term care home in Vancouver, leading a small team of care aides to provide care for residents with physical and cognitive challenges.
Like many in the industry, Ian says he was often challenged by the growing administrative demands on health-care providers, inefficiencies in the system and ever-increasing ratios of patients to caregivers.
“I enrolled in this program because I wanted to explore ways to improve seniors care and the lives of seniors in general,” he says. And while he considered other options — like a master of science in nursing or a degree in health informatics — he felt the Master of Health Leadership and Policy (MHLP) in Seniors Care program would give him the practical and strategic tools to successfully engage multiple stakeholders and work for change.
Learning from experts in the field
About 60 per cent of the classes in the MHLP are devoted to examining practical and policy issues related to seniors care. The project-based curriculum explores the context of seniors care and ways to develop care strategies, make data-driven decisions and lead organizations.
“The faculty are experts and leading the way in current ideas around seniors care,” says Ian. “They’re also very engaged in the local community and industry.”
Developing valuable business and leadership skills
One of Ian’s motivations for taking the MHLP was a desire to learn more about stakeholder management through the program’s business and leadership classes. It’s not enough, he says, for people in health care to simply propose initiatives — however worthwhile — and expect everyone to agree. “We need to do a better job of showing stakeholders that we understand their pain points, and communicating this in a way that respects all stakeholders.”
Ian credits the MHLP’s business classes for enhancing his skills in communication, leadership, business case analysis and more.
“I can bring my on-the-ground clinical perspectives to the table, and I am now in a stronger position to identify the pain points of various stakeholders — such as the public, business and government — and explore solutions that everyone can agree on.”
A startup with a vision to help seniors age in place
During one of his first MHLP classes, Ian and other students brainstormed strategies to help seniors age in place. From this initial discussion, he was able to identify a gap in the market: free grocery delivery services.
Ian says that discount grocery stores and independent stores do not offer free delivery, and those grocery stores that do often require a minimum order and will only deliver certain days of the week. Seeing an opportunity, he envisioned a service where seniors (or their caregivers) could order groceries through an app, with a team of volunteers then picking up the orders and delivering them on a flexible schedule.
Ian used the assignments in his business classes to learn more about grocery stores and the grocery delivery business and to conduct market research. “Not many people realize that as a UBC student you have access to very valuable market research databases that are worth thousands of dollars.”
Professors provided constructive feedback, and Ian then collaborated with classmates in the Master of Engineering Leadership in Dependable Software Systems program to design and develop an app towards his vision of helping seniors remain independent at home.
He will launch a pilot project of his venture Anjel Shopsmart (www.anjel.ca) in 2018. In the meantime, Ian is looking for new employment opportunities to make everyday products and services conducive to an ageing population while maintaining his current positions at Eagle Ridge Hospital and Villa Cathay Care Home. He hopes that he will be able to leverage his newfound skills and knowledge in stakeholder management and healthcare policy to bring about positive changes in both the private and public sectors.
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