Community Connections for Health Care

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by Joan Bachman

How often do you consider your “sphere of influence”? Some of us too much, some not enough.
Whether I am intentional about influencing or not, some piece of my “being” influences: what I say, how I say it, what I do, where I go, what is important to me, who I associate with, who I listen to, the appearance of my car - house - dress. Every day someone will be affected somehow from a close-up or distant encounter with me. The effect may be instant, next week, or after a generation.

Likewise, I am influenced by others and by my environment – willingly or not. This is likely more unconsciously than consciously. Social media has complicated our ability to listen to only what will add to quality of life. However, I’m responsible to ignore, accept, argue, inform, learn, or reject what is presented. I must be comfortable with my personal beliefs to make useful decisions.

When I want to influence a situation, there are a variety of ways. The easy way is to send money, as you are reminded regularly. This may be the most efficient means of supporting your personal interests because service organizations do need donations to survive. However, this may limit the possibility you will learn about the individual impact of your donation. Participation in an organization or group requires a time commitment and offers a way to personally promote your interest in an issue and a chance to learn from others. Another way to be involved is to volunteer service, sharing your interest and skill as well as your time and your “being”. Each of the three results in influencing and being influenced.

I’ve come to prefer participation and volunteering because of the satisfaction of face-to-face involvement in the issue. Catching even a glimpse of the differences in the environments of peoples’ current and growing-up years changes my views of how my attitude and actions can best serve. These glimpses have resulted in the greatest impact on my way of thinking and acting.

My first experience with one-to-one volunteering was with a teenage mother who suddenly lost her primary support person and a familiar place to live. Through our several initial years, I learned that families operate under very different resources and standards: personal and financial security are not universal, government help doesn’t often make things better. Life’s not fair. Some of the issues we worked through were trust, housing, transportation, justice, and employment. Each of us influenced the other, both immediately and long-term. The relationship has continued sporadically for nearly 25 years with joy when we get together. My understanding of humanity has greatly increased through this relationship.

I have since volunteered for several one-to-one relationships, much shorter lived. Issues to be worked through are always the same: trust, housing, transportation, justice, and employment; issues that never posed a real struggle for me, so my learning continues. Communication is often difficult because of each of our past experiences or language. I discovered that my desire to be a positive influence has more meaning for me than for the recipient, and have come to terms with that.

A word about environment – a neighborhood, school, workplace, church; each are affected by us and affect us. We are most comfortable with the familiar, whether that is good for us and others or not. It is no easy thing to leave the familiar even when it is to fulfill personal needs or reach a new goal. It is a good thing to venture out there for personal growth.

One of my favorite authors/speakers, Joe Tye, publishes books and a newsletter. A useful influencer can be The Pickle Pledge – the practice of turning complaints into compliments. Get rid of negativity. See his Values Coach website.

An amazing TED Talks broadcast on Public Radio on July 7, 2019. Gary Slutkin, Public Health expert in the field of infectious diseases, has approached “centers of violence” with the goal of decreasing the violence. His work considers violence to be contagious (think malaria or cholera) and employs epidemic control measures to decrease the contagion of violence. WOW. Think “germs” spreading disease and “influence” spreading violence. Decreases in violence have been measureable using his approach. See the Cure Violence website. Amazing examples of good things to come. Influence matters!!!

Know that your being is an influence to your world. Be intentional and use it to make the world a better place.

About the Author

Joan Bachman

Joan Bachman is a Registered Nurse, Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, Registered Health Information Technician, and Faith Community Nurse. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Joan has experience as a Nurse, Administrator, Developer, Trainer, Grant Writer, and served as Administrator of SD State Survey Agency. She has consulted with health care facilities and nonprofit organizations and presented leadership training. Joan is the author of Guidebook for Assisted Living Facilities and Senior Service Providers and Guidebook for Physician Services in the Nursing Facility, and she has published in professional journals.

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