Skip to main content
Pioneer Network: Changing the Culture of Aging, Care and Support

Pioneer Network: Changing the Culture of Aging, Care and Support

By Pioneer Network
Pioneer Network supports models where elders live in open, diverse, caring communities. In-depth change in systems requires change in governmental policy and regulation; change in the individual’s and society’s attitudes toward aging and elders; change in elders’ attitudes towards themselves and their aging; and change in the attitudes and behavior of caregivers toward those for whom they care. We refer to this work as culture change. Our aim is nothing less than transforming the culture of aging in America.
Listen on
Where to listen
Breaker Logo


Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo


Spotify Logo


Listen, Learn, Explore: Season 2/Episode 1 - A Conversation with Linda Cohen, Kindness Catalyst
Bring in the New Year with an episode that is sure to inspire you. Join Linda Cohen, the “kindness catalyst,” as she joins Penny Cook in a conversation about the benefits of kindness, the importance of it in the workplace and how we can all be catalysts of kindness, not only for the good of others but also for ourselves.  And then plan on joining Linda and Penny for a virtual Learning Circle, Let's Talk About Kindness, on Tuesday, January 18 at 2:00 PM EST. Click here to save your spot at the circle.
January 05, 2022
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 20: A Holiday Message from the Staff at Pioneer Network
This is Episode 20 of our podcast and the last of 2021 and we have something a little bit different for you. Join the staff of Pioneer Network, Penny Cook, Cathy Lieblich and Joan Devine for a special holiday episode where they’ll review the year by sharing what’s been meaningful for to them in 2021 and what they’re looking forward to in the New Year. Thank you for being part of our Network, for your support, your encouragement and for all you do on behalf of the older adults of today and the those of the future.  We wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends, warmth and love and Cheers to 2022—let’s make it a great year!
December 21, 2021
LLE 19 - A Conversation on Innovating for Today and Tomorrow
Pioneer Network's President & CEO Penny Cook is pleased to welcome Lynne Katzmann, President & CEO of Juniper Communities as her guest. Lynne has been recognized for her outstanding leadership.  As someone who champions a spirit of innovation, she is a firm believer in the double bottom line: doing well by doing good.  Listen as she shares the work she and the team at Juniper have been doing over the past 2 years as they have embraced the interconnection between physical, emotional and mental health, supporting innovation in in every aspect of their organization, including clinical care and engagement. Lynne is one of those leaders who can guide us as we look to the future.  We invite you to hear from other innovative leaders by joining us on Wednesday, December 8 for Pioneer Network's final symposium in the 2021 Envisioning the Future series, More to Do in 2022!  Click here to learn more.
November 09, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 18: The Importance of Family Collaboration for Quality Dementia Care
Listen to Penny Cook’s second discussion with Kim Warchol, an occupational therapist and the President and Founder of Dementia Care Specialists at Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI). CPI is part of the Pioneer Partner Network. Kim and Penny talk about what quality dementia care really means and the opportunities and benefits of family collaboration. They also have a lively conversation about shifting the paradigm to focus on the family care partner first (like putting on your oxygen mask before helping others!).
November 03, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 17: Making the Most of the Holidays by Setting Shared Goals
For most of us, the holidays are a time to gather together with family and friends to celebrate, share traditions and make memories. But for someone living with Dementia and their Care Partners, the holidays can present new challenges. In this podcast, Carrie Chiusano, Exec Dir, Dementia Care Center of Excellence, Presbyterian SeniorCare Network shares her experiences and provides insights into how, by setting shared goals, we can support residents and care partners in having the best possible experience over the holidays. After listening to the podcast, join Carrie for a virtual learning circle on Wednesday, November 3rd at 2PM EDT where together we’ll explore this topic further, identifying more ideas that will help as you prepare for the up-coming holiday season.   Click here to register for the Virtual Learning Circle.
October 21, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 16: Creating a Volun-Cheer Workforce
Who benefits from using volunteers in nursing homes? Everyone! Join Penny Cook and she talks with Dr. Paul Falkowski. Paul is an author, musician, entrepreneur, teacher, public speaker, and consultant who strongly promotes and advocates for expanding the role of volunteers in long-term care. Paul is the speaker for Pioneer Network’s up-coming Growing Person-Centeredness Webinar, Someone Just for Me: Recognizing a Critical Role for Volunteers being held on Thursday, October 21 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST. Click here to learn more and to register. And for more, check out Paul’s recently released book, Creating a Volun-Cheer Force, describing how you can create a robust volunteer program that will act as a conduit for attracting new workers while undoing the negative stereotypes associated with aging and long-term care.
October 14, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 15: Distress Behavior Intervention - We Have a Solution!
Join Penny Cook as she talks “behaviors” with Kim Warchol. Kim is an occupational therapist and the President and Founder of Dementia Care Specialists at Crisis Prevention Institute. Dementia Care Specialists offers a person-centered, abilities-focused model of care for those living with Alzheimer's and dementia. Kim delves into many topics including normalizing the word “behavior,” how we can prevent and intervene with “distress behaviors,” and how this knowledge is beneficial for people living with dementia and both their personal and professional care partners. This is the first of two special episodes that you won’t want to miss.
October 07, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 14: Pandemic Endurance - Building Immunity in Partnership with Nature
Biophiliac & Longevity Expert and Founder & CEO of Biophilia Pharma (Nature is the New Pharmacy) Tammy Marshall joins us for the latest episode in Pioneer Network’s Listen, Learn, Explore series where she challenges you to listen to your body’s desire to be in nature (When you feel the pull to be outdoors, respond to it); learn the positive impacts that nature can have on your health; and explore areas in and around your environment where you can immerse yourself and the residents in nature. After listening to the podcast, we invite you to join us on Thursday, October 7 at 2 PM EDT for a virtual learning circle in which we will further explore this topic with Tammy, and as an attendee, you could even will a copy of the book that Tammy references in her talk, Biophilia: You + Nature + Home by Sally Coulthard. Click here to save your spot in the circle.
September 23, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 13: Know Each Person - You Bring the Passion, PELI Brings the Process!
As we work to provide quality of life for residents living in care communities, we can all agree on the value of knowing each person and understanding their preferences around daily routines; preferences that support meaning and purpose in their life. We know we need to not only find a way to collect this information, but we also need to have a process to share it with all team members, incorporate those preferences into each resident’s plan of care, and identify if we are honoring those preferences. Quite a challenge, but we believe that PELI (Preferences of Everyday Living Inventory) may be just what you are looking for to meet that challenge! Join Katy as she introduces you to PELI and the PAL Cards and shares how your team can use these tool to support knowing the person -  and more! And there’s more! You will also learn about ComPASS-16, a tool that can help you evaluate how well you are meeting resident preferences, and the Individualized Positive Psychosocial Intervention (IPPI), an evidence-based intervention to help engage with residents living with dementia in day-to-day activities. And everything Katy will be sharing is FREE! After listening to the podcast, we hope you will join us for a virtual learning circle on Tuesday, September 14, at 1:00PM – 2:00PM EDT, where you will have the opportunity to meet Katy and learn more, ask questions, and even participate in a short demonstration. Click here to register. 
August 31, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore, Episode 12: Engagement in Senior Living- Where Are We Now and What Does the Future Hold?
Listen to Dawn Worsley, Certified Activity Consultant, Regional Clinical Specialist, Owner of 'Dawn on the Horizon, and Board President of NCCAP, the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals, as she talks to Penny Cook about the current state and future of engagement and activity professionals. Among other things, you’ll learn how COVID has helped to change the world of the activities calendar and what it means to support residents to have a truly enriched life.   To explore further the topic of engagement further, Pioneer Network invites you to join us on September 22 for a virtual symposium, Envisioning the Future:  Finding Meaning & Purpose.  To learn more, click here.  
August 24, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 11: Food for Thought
Are you looking for those “a-ha” moments, the little things that can make the dining experience for individuals living with dementia meaningful as you support their nutritional needs? Then you’ll want to join Toni Fisk, CDM and author of the book,  #dinewithdignity: Unlocking the Mystery of Dementia & Dining as she shares practical ideas that you can put in place to support the well-being of individuals living with dementia and their care partners. After listening to the Podcast, click here to sign up to join us on Tuesday, August 24 at 1PM EDT for a virtual learning circle as we explore the topic further with Toni. Toni Fisk has been engaged in the food and hospitality industry for over 35 years, her professional career encompassing Walt Disney World/EPCOT Center and Marriot Hotels before transitioning to Healthcare and Senior Living. Toni has always embraced the “Servant Leadership” model as she has ascended the ranks during her career; whether being a Server of Dining General Manager, Executive Chef or Operations Vice-President, she has always practiced inclusion, communication, and professionalism. Toni’s daily operational engagement at Senior Living Communities across the US stoked a concern regarding the care, training and tools that were accessible to all the pillars of support services who are caring for elders, particularly those living with dementia. This as the foundation for her consulting firm, DinnerWEARhc, Inc. Toni holds certifications as a Dietary Manager, Montessori Dementia Care Professional, Dementia Care Practitioner, Teepa Snow Positive Approach to Care Independent Trainer, and Second Wind Virtual Dementia Tour Trainer. She provides dementia education and training for family caregivers and residential community staff on topics related to enhancing dining activities.
August 12, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 10: Happily Ever Older: Revolutionary Approaches to Long-Term Care
Join Penny Cook as she talks with Moira Welsh, an investigative journalist with the Toronto Star. She started as a breaking news reporter and soon joined the investigative team where she has written on social justice, the environment, and the lives of people living in senior living communities. She is also the author of Happily Ever Older: Revolutionary Approaches to Long-Term Care. Moira and Penny discuss the book, the reasons Moira wrote it, and the extensive research she did on various communities throughout the world where those who live and work are thriving and growing. You won’t want to miss this conversation. You can find Moira’s book at
July 27, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode #9: Operationalizing Dignity
Dignity.  It's a word we hear and use all the time.  For those of us working in aging services, we know that in the long-term regulations as far back as OBRA '87 you will find that the word 'dignity', along with 'respect', are two of the more commonly seen words in the document.  And it makes sense - who doesn't believe that it is a fundamental right for residents in nursing homes to be treated with dignity, and don't we all want to be treated with dignity as well?   Marianne Schmenk, who spent the last 15 years of her career managing a regional long-term care ombudsman program in NW Ohio, has recently had an "A-ha" regarding the concept of dignity, and she is here to share her thoughts with you, and hopefully stimulate some thinking.  No, she doesn't' have all the answers on how to operationalize dignity, though there is surely a tie to person-centered care, but she is eager to share ideas and get the conversation going.   So we hope you'll enjoy the conversation between Marianne and Pioneer Network's Director of Education, Joan Devine, and that it will inspire you to join us for the virtual learning circle on Tuesday, July 27 at 1PM EDT so that you can continue the conversation with us - and together, we can gain insight into how to operationalize dignity.  Click here to register.
July 12, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 8: Dignity & Respect - Are Our Aging Parents Getting What They Deserve?
The title says it all and it’s also the title of Phyllis’ Ayman’s latest book. Join Penny Cook for this transparent discussion with Phyllis about nursing homes, senior living and the advocacy needed to change the culture of care and support.  Phyllis Ayman is a speech and language pathologist who works with families as an elder care advisor and strategist, helping them get the best information for themselves and their loved ones. After listening to the podcast, join us for the virtual learning circle on Thursday, June 24 at 1PM EDT, where you can join Phyllis for further conversation.  Click here to save your place. 
June 09, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 7: Living in A Dementia Unit - A View From the Inside
Like so many of us, Jim Vanden Bosch, a filmmaker and the founder and executive director of Terra Nova Films, a not-for-profit company specializing in films and videos on a wide variety of aging related issues, was curious about what it must be like to live in a "dementia unit" in a nursing home. Unlike most of us, Jim decided he needed to know - first hand, and so with the support of his family and a local nursing home administrator, he moved in and lived there for 4 days.  This episode of Listen, Learn, Explore provides the opportunity to listen to Jim's story and learn what he experienced.  After listening to the podcast, join us for the virtual learning circle on Thursday, May 27 at 1PM EDT, where you can explore further with Jim the value of this experience and together, identify lessons learned.  Click here for more information and to save your seat in the virtual circle. Jim's special guest at the learning circle will be Leslie Pedtke, author of What Living as a Resident Can Teach Long-Term Care Staff.
May 19, 2021
Listen, Look, Learn Episode 6: Specialized Seating for Residents and Caregivers: Why Chairs Designed for Use by Older Adults Need to Swivel, Turn, and Roll!
CNAs and other caregivers shoulder a great burden every day. In particular, the task of moving elders up to or away from the dining table requires a great deal of push-pull-shove-twist. Chairs get damaged and lose their structural integrity. Floors get damaged from the dragging and the weight. Most importantly, the risk of personal injury to care staff from such exertion adds to an already burdensome workday. ComforTek Seating seeks to provide care communities with caregiver-focused solutions that benefit the resident, the caregiver, and the administrator. With chairs that swivel, turn, roll, and lock for safety. ComforTek President, Randy Schellenberg, shares the mission of ComforTek and explains why it’s all about the caregiver. After listening to the podcast, we hope you will join us for a virtual Learning Circle on Tuesday, May 18 at 1:00 PM EDT, where you can chat with Randy and members of the team from Pioneer Network.  Together, we will share thoughts about this and other caregiver-focused solutions that benefit all.   Come prepared with your questions.  Click here to save your spot at the Learning Circle.
May 04, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode #5: A Toolkit To Help State Policymakers Promote Person-Centered Care
In Episode 5 of Listen, Learn, Explore, you’ll learn about a new toolkit from the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston that outlines steps that policymakers at the state level can take to implement a pay-for-performance (P4P) program that uses Medicaid funds to promote person-centered care in nursing homes. The toolkit focuses on lessons learned from implementation of the Promoting Excellent Alternatives in Kansas Nursing Homes (PEAK 2.0), a program that helps Kansas nursing homes implement person-centered care. You hear from Laci Cornelison, the Program Director of PEAK 2.0 at Kansas State University and Natasha Bryant, Managing Director and Research Associate of the LeadingAge LTSS Center at UMass Boston as they talk about how the toolkit can help you advocate with your state to integrate person-centered care expectations and incentives into state policy. Then plan on join us for the virtual learning circle as we delve deeper into the nuances of the toolkit and explore ways that you can work directly with state organizations and legislatures to take action. Come prepared with your questions.  Click here to save your spot at the Learning Circle.
April 13, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 4: Spring is Here - Time to Reconnect with Mother Nature
Trees are budding, flowers are blooming, and except for those quick April snowstorms, we’re in the throes of spring and itching to be outside. After the year long-term care residents have had, we know that they are as well. Are the outdoor spaces in senior living and care communities ready for spring? Are they accessible to everyone so that no matter where people live or whatever their abilities or disabilities are, they can go outside too? Join Maggie Calkins from IDEAS Institute and Matt Richardson from WhisperGLIDE Swing Company as we discuss Designing Gardens to Attract Activity. Explore this topic further by joining Maggie and Matt on Tuesday, April 13 at 1:00 PM EDT for a virtual learning circle.  Click here to register. 
March 30, 2021
Listen, Learn, Explore Episode 3: Urinary Incontinence - No, We’re not Kidding, Let's Talk about It!
Dr. Rosemary Laird is a board-certified geriatrician who knows that collaboration and communication are critical to managing intricate issues of aging. She graduated from the Georgetown University School of Medicine. She completed her advanced fellowship in geriatrics at the University of Kansas. In this Listen, Learn, Explore episode sponsored by Seni, we talk with Dr. Laird about the importance of person-centered incontinence care; that incontinence is not inevitable as we age; the ways to maintain continence; and the importance of knowing a person well, both for the type of care and the products you provide. After listening to the podcast, join us for the virtual learning circle on Thursday, March 18 at 1:00 PM EST as we delve deeper into this topic and be part of normalizing the conversation about incontinence. You will also have the opportunity to receive a newly published white paper by Dr. Laird and Seni. Seni is a premium brand of adult incontinence products and is part of the TZMO Group. Click here to register for the Learning Circle
March 02, 2021
Listen, Look, Learn Episode 2: Do You Know...Your Residents? with Dr. Lynn McNicoll, M.D.
In this new Listen, Learn, Explore podcast, Dr. McNicoll will offer insights into an array of COVID related issues such as brain fog, delirium and sepsis showing how a person centered lens can make a world of difference in supporting the care of elders. As you listen and learn, Dr. McNicoll will share examples from high performing organizations, opening up a world of ideas that will illuminate and guide. Then don’t miss the opportunity to learn more in the follow up discussion during our virtual learning circle.  You’ll be speaking directly with Dr. McNicoll, and together with your peers, you can explore further what was shared in the podcast.  Click here to learn more and to register to join the conversation -  and be sure to come with questions, ideas and examples.  
February 17, 2021
Listen, Look, Learn Episode 1: Did You Know...? with Dr. Stefan Gravenstein, M.D.
This month’s Listen, Learn, Explore episode is titled “Did You Know?” In the podcast, Dr. Gravenstein will share his considerable knowledge and deep insights into the COVID-19 pandemic, exploring questions like, did you know . . . about band standing, information about the new strains, and using video to improve quality. After listening to the podcast, we invite you to join us as we continue to explore this topic in the second part of the Listen, Learn, Explore program, an interactive, learning-circle style event which will be held on Tuesday,  January 26 at 3:00 PM EST. To learn more and register, go to the events page at or to Pioneer Network's Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter Page.
January 19, 2021