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  • Writer's pictureNicole Will

Breaking the Silence: Building a Trauma-Informed Community


Natalie Elliott Handy confessions of a reluctant caregiver

Breaking the Silence: Building a Trauma-Informed Community with Jean Hartnett, MHSA, NNA, CDP, YTT, CNA & Founder of Radical Sabbatical


Transforming Senior Care: The Power of Trauma-Informed Approaches


How does having an understanding of childhood adversity and trauma shape the way we care for and support our older adults today? My guest today is Jean Hartnett. Jean Hartnett is a visionary healthcare leader with over 25 years of executive experience serving the older adult population. She has not only worked hands-on with older adults but also collaborated extensively with professionals in the field. Beyond her direct experience, Jean possesses a profound understanding of public health policy issues.


Today, we talk about the importance of trauma-informed care. Jean shares insights on common types of childhood adversity and their lasting impacts on physical and mental health. We discuss how caregivers and healthcare providers can recognize the signs of trauma and devise effective strategies. We also explore available resources and tools that can assist caregivers in their efforts.


Our conversation touches on the challenges and benefits of implementing a trauma-informed approach to care. Jean shares how she envisions the evolution of senior care, the role this approach takes, and how families can better understand and become informed about the effects of childhood trauma in their loved one's lives, along with supporting the front-line staff in senior living communities. We also talk about overcoming the stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health.


According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 90% of our older adults have experienced at least one form of the common types of childhood adversity and trauma. As we strive to build a trauma-informed community and promote healing for our older adults, Jean's insights are invaluable.


I’m so happy that Jean has joined me for this conversation. Thank you, Jean, for your important work and for bringing a vital conversation to light.


Listen to our episode HERE.


Jean shares about:


  • Trauma-informed care and the importance of understanding and implementing trauma-informed care for older adults

  • Insights on common types of childhood adversity and how they can have long-term effects on an individual's physical and mental health

  • The importance of caregivers and healthcare providers recognizing signs of trauma in older adults, and devising effective care strategies to address them

  • Exploration of available resources and tools that aid caregivers in applying trauma-informed care techniques

  • Implementing a trauma-informed approach and the subsequent benefits it can bring to senior care

  • Her perspective on how the field of senior care is evolving, particularly in light of a trauma-informed approach

  • The misconceptions surrounding mental health, the necessity to overcome stigma, and the importance of families being informed about the impact of childhood trauma on their elderly loved ones


About Jean Hartnett


Jean Hartnett is a visionary health care leader with over 25 years of executive experience serving the older adult population. Ms. Hartnett is a proven collaborator known for her innate ability to inspire new thinking in others while repositioning organizational strategy to achieve desired results. Acknowledged by her peers for applying best practice approaches and significantly improving seniors’ quality of care, Ms. Hartnett brings practical, consultative guidance to healthcare, community, and business leaders from the unique perspective of the frontline employee. She has worked as a healthcare executive, college professor, consultant, and strategic advisor for large and small health systems across the United States.


Ms. Hartnett began working in senior care as a Certified Nursing Assistant in the late 1980’s in a Nebraska skilled nursing facility while studying social work at The University of Nebraska-Omaha. At the time, nursing homes were beginning to implement sweeping elder care reform codified in The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA ’87). Witnessing this transformation on the frontline, Ms. Hartnett learned how to effectively translate public policy into operational and quality standards for seniors.


This early work inspired her to move to Washington, DC where she worked on Capitol Hill as a Congressional aide to Senator Jim Exon. Ms. Hartnett addressed and researched constituent concerns related to health policy issues. After leaving the Hill, Ms. Hartnett began her work as a health and social services reform advocate managing grants and programs that promoted an individual’s move from welfare to work. She led a nation-wide child care subsidy program for AmeriCorps volunteers while beginning her master’s program in health services administration at The George Washington University. After graduation, Ms. Hartnett became a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator and lead the operations for comprehensive skilled nursing facilities and continuing care retirement communities throughout Nebraska and Iowa.


Ms. Hartnett is a dynamic communicator with a captivating style of relating real world senior care experiences to her audiences. Her natural curiosity and belief in “people power” has afforded her a rich and diverse career path in managing and leading complex healthcare organizations, leading nation-wide consulting engagements and bringing the board room into the classroom. She willingly shares her knowledge in a relatable and engaging way that promotes mindful conversation amongst individuals, teams, board members, students and community stakeholders.


Ms. Hartnett earned a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from The University of Nebraska Omaha and a Master’s in Health Services Administration with Long Term Care Specialty from The George Washington University. Ms. Hartnett is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, a Certified Yoga instructor and a Certified Nursing Assistant.


Connect with Jean on LinkedIn HERE.



*This episode is brought to you by Gigi Betty co. A boutique gift shop raising awareness and funds for caregivers and care partners. Show now at www.gigibettyco.com. Use the special code WILLGATHER20 for 20% off your order- Just for our podcast listeners!


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We are not medical professionals and are not providing any medical advice. If you have any medical questions, we recommend that you talk with a medical professional of your choice. willGather has taken care in selecting its speakers but the opinions of our speakers are theirs alone. Thank you for your continued interest in our podcasts.


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Nicole Will is our host and founder of willGather.


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