Tuesday, December 5, 2023 from 12-4pm EST



Person-directed care has been a goal of eldercare providers and regulators for years, but the term falls short. Nursing homes, assisted living communities, and other residential settings aren’t just places where people receive care: they’re places that people call home. During the pandemic, far too many elders and families experienced the harm that can arise from care models that emphasize physical safety above all other social determinants of health.

Person-directed living goes beyond care to foster an environment where elders truly feel at home – where caregivers honor their unique daily rhythms and routines, incorporate resident interests and preferences into daily programming, and give equal time to the non-medical factors that affect quality of life.

Join us for a one-day summit on person-directed living with experts from across the eldercare continuum. You’ll learn about evidence-based tools that help caregivers achieve a healthy balance between elder safety and autonomy, and gain a vision for creating effective care partnerships among activity professionals, CNAs, and elders to form a true community of whole-person care.

Participants who attend the live event can earn up to 3 CEU credits.


  • Compare/contrast person-directed care with person-directed living
  • Develop strategies for implementing person-directed living practices in a variety of eldercare settings
  • Understand “the dignity of risk,” the fulfillment that elders can achieve through retaining autonomy

SESSION 1:  12:00 – 1:00PM EST

Let’s Put the Fun in Fundamentals

Everyone agrees elders deserve rich and meaningful lives full of purpose and autonomy in a real home environment in today’s residential care sites. Execution of that standard often falls short due to competing demands, clinical complexities, and a stretched workforce infrastructure. Taking a step back from the daily pressures of long-term care, this opening session lays the foundation for relationship-rich, person-directed living contrasted to person-directed care. Come explore a framework to evaluate meaningful life at your organization and tools to harness team ownership of elder engagement.


  • Participants will analyze their organization’s approach to meaningful engagement using the Pioneer Network’s continuum of person-directed culture
  • Participants will describe the four components of meaningful life to support a community of whole person care
  • Participants will illustrate team approaches to meaningful engagement

Marla DeVries

Chief Learning Officer, Center for Innovation

Stacey Bergmann, MS, CTRS, CDP

Director of Community and Network Relations, Center for Innovation

BREAK 1:  1:00 – 1:30PM EST

SESSION 2:  1:30 – 2:30PM EST

The Power of Normal: Real Engagement with Real Children and Pets

Interacting with pets and children is a joyous, meaningful part of life for people of any age. Substituting those natural human experiences with robotic pets and baby dolls is one of the many ways we fail to treat elders with dignity and respect — and there’s plenty of evidence that it’s completely unnecessary.

This session will demonstrate how leaders and caregivers can work together to foster individualized, meaningful engagements among elders, children, and pets. Instead of infantilizing elders with toys, attendees will discover the power of normalizing environments and approaches that facilitate empowering, respectful, and dignified experiences for elders of all abilities.


  • Participants will learn about the concept of the “power of normal,” and how elders in communal care settings thrive when they are empowered to pursue the activities and interests they enjoyed prior to move-in
  • Participants will be equipped to evaluate their organizations’ practices and philosophies for opportunities to foster more “normal” interactions
  • Participants will be able to Identify methods for balancing safety and risk regarding interactions among elders, children, and pets

Lynette Dunlap-Estes, RN

Green House Guide and Model Integrity Champion, Green House Cottages of Belle Meade

Olivia Henson

Activity Director, Green House Cottages of Belle Meade

Susan Ryan

CEO of Center for Innovation, Inc.

BREAK 2:  2:30 – 3:00PM EST

SESSION 3:  3:00 – 4:00PM EST

There is Dignity in Risk-taking: Developing a Program for Decision-making In aging and dementia for autonomy (DIGNITY)

Dignity is an essential characteristic of being human and is related to a sense of well-being in older adulthood. Dignity of risk is the principle of allowing the dignity afforded by risk-taking, with subsequent enhancement of personal growth and quality of life. Positive risk-taking improves autonomy, social interaction, and elements of both physical and mental health. On the other hand, over-protection or “surplus safety” has the opposite effect, diminishing a person and removing hope. Knowing and honoring residents’ preferences for social activities has been difficult for most nursing home communities during the COVID pandemic. This session will focus on direct provider experiences with honoring residents’ preferences. We will propose a strategy for balancing dignified risk-taking and safety for older adults (including those with dementia) living in nursing home communities.


  • Participants will understand the principal dignity of risk-taking in older adulthood in long-term care
  • Participants will identify how their personal attitudes around risk-taking in everyday life impacts residents’ risk-taking
  • Participants will identify components of a novel strategy for managing risks associated with resident preferences for care and activities of everyday living

Liza Behrens, Ph.D., RN

Assistant Professor, Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing, Pennsylvania State University

Betsy Kemeny, Ph.D., CTRS, FDRT

Associate Professor, Chair, Recreational Therapy Department, Slippery Rock University

Kaléi Kowalchik, BSN, RN

Project Coordinator, DIGNITY Pilot Study, PhD Candidate, Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing, Pennsylvania State University

 4:00 – 5:00PM EST