Key Words – collaboration, resiliency, resolve, sacrifice, perseverance, intestinal fortitude, love, commitment, planning, implementation, assessment, and adjustments

In November, I received a very disturbing call from my sister stating that my mother had fallen and was being rushed to the hospital. A short time later, I received another call stating that she had dislocated her hip and fractured her C-2 and C-3 vertebrae. This was bad news considering she was in the early stages of dementia as well. I immediately called an emergency staff meeting and informed them of the situation with my mom. I expressed that I would be out for several days as the winter break approached and the first semester ended. The staff was very supportive, they expressed their concern and offered assistance if needed.

When I arrived to the hospital, my mother’s condition was worsening and the doctors indicated that it would be an uphill battle for my mom in rehab. While in the rehabilitation facility, it didn’t take long for me to put my “educational hat” on as my mom would constantly have visitors come to her room to assess her progress. My initial thought during this emotional experience were the striking similarities of the medical staff’s actions to the Plan, Do, Check, and Adjust/Act Cycle, a school-improvement model for fostering change and improvement.

PDCA ModelTo begin, just as a principal would when analyzing for a root cause, the doctor reviewed the data, – test results, MRI, and reports – and performed a SWOT analysis (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). He immediately designed a plan of action for my mom (Plan). Subsequently, he met with his team; the team was comprised of the physician assistant, occupational therapist, dietician, physical therapist, personal care assistant, and maintenance worker. All of these individuals, commonly referred to in educational institutions as the leadership team, would be working with my mom to discuss the plan and the duties and responsibilities assigned to each member of the team. Once this stage was completed it was time to implement the plan (Do).

The elements associated with the plan – specific medication, physical and occupational therapy, administration of the proper food and adequate liquids – were reminiscent of academic intervention and remediation elements educators utilize when prescribing evidenced-based instructional practices for a student experiencing learning challenges. The first step in a process known in the education community as tier one of the Response to Intervention (RTI) framework. This framework, is a four-tiered instructional method which guides educators in coordinating instruction and intervention to address a student’s particular learning needs.

Every thirty minutes, hour, or few hours, someone would come in to check my mother’s vitals, assess her pain, and monitor her ability to move. This was critical to her progression, as it provided valuable information on next steps (Check). Finally, adjustments had to be made in accordance with the assessments and data (Adjust/Act). A few modifications noted were: pain medication had to be increased at times – remediation for deficiencies; her diet was adjusted; steps were increased during occupational therapy – acceleration due to progression; and eventually wearing her back or neck brace was determined by the degree of pain she experienced.

To put it briefly, it was a joy watching the collaborative effort of the staff and the progression of my mom! It was apparent that that the medical staff collaborated in a manner similar to educators when creating a plan of action for struggling students. By developing, implementing, and monitoring the interventions strategically decided upon, the team ensured the plan was effective and implemented with fidelity. During this life-changing experience my mother demonstrated a tremendous amount of resiliency, resolve, and intestinal fortitude. Although most times her motivation is intrinsic, my mother was inspired by my sister, my niece, my daughter, and myself. Witnessing the medical team’s actions was inspiring and a lesson in growth and acknowledgement of how effective practices transcend fields of knowledge. Demonstrating a real life example of what happens when a group of individuals are committed to a common goal of achievement!

Please click on the link below for the PowerPoint. The second link is a video of my mother’s progression and provides a true example of the power of collaboration.!Al-qa-w5V8mRcYFkPXaNhpXxYpY