Leading through Uncertainty
Unprecedented. It’s a word we’ve heard a lot over the past two years. And yet, when it comes to the experience of frontline staff in BC’s long-term care homes and the seniors care sector as a whole, no other word will do. Just when the sector was starting to feel that the challenges ushered in by COVID-19 were under control, the province experienced a series of extraordinary weather events. The early summer of 2021 saw days of extreme heat that led to the deaths of hundreds of seniors, followed by months of wildfires that required evacuating care homes in at-risk locations. Flooding in November 2021 then forced many communities to once again evacuate to safer ground.
Safely evacuating and relocating long-term care home residents is an incredible challenge, given the complicated logistics of moving hundreds of vulnerable people in the midst of approaching fires or floods. Frontline staff were under tremendous pressure, made all the more difficult by the context of ensuring safety in the face of COVID-19.
These events are an all too stark reminder of the need for resilient leaders who are able to adapt to unpredictable situations and guide their teams through uncertainty.
Leadership resilience comes with knowledge: both sector-specific knowledge of best practices in health care and knowledge of how to lead and inspire teams.
DEVELOPING HEALTHCARE LEADERS
The Master of Health Leadership and Policy (MHLP) in Seniors Care aims to equip leaders with these skills through its combination of health-care and business classes focusing on organizational leadership and project management.
The courses empower students to know how to manage in dynamic situations: how to come up with a plan, pivot in the face of new knowledge or events, and keep staff and residents safe and healthy.
Leading in times of uncertainty is easier when you have a wide support network and have worked in diverse situations. Our program creates the conditions for this to occur. The business classes that make up half of the MHLP curriculum bring together MHLP students with those from the Master of Engineering Leadership programs.
Working on group projects with engineers, environmental scientists and urban planners encourages our students to broaden their perspectives and contribute their own insights with confidence.
THE SKILLS TO LEAD THROUGH UNPRECEDENTED TIMES
We see our students quickly gain the ability to assess the challenges within new situations and develop strategies that meet the needs of multiple stakeholders.
One thing we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergencies caused by extreme weather events is just how interconnected our world is. Responding to these challenges requires expertise in many different areas. Perhaps in the past, it was possible for leaders in seniors care to largely work within their own sector.
Today, our leaders need to be able to work on interprofessional teams and with diverse stakeholders outside their sector.
The applied learning and collaborative interdisciplinary projects our students work on throughout their degree uniquely prepare them to be resilient leaders who are comfortable leading through unpredictable times.