The COVID-19 pandemic has placed long term care in the spotlight. Immense challenges have existed for decades, but salt is now in the wound.
Some lawyers see this pandemic as an opportunity to teach the long term care industry a lesson. In addition, various media outlets see this as a chance to catch the big story of the devastated family member of one who lived in a nursing home.
Others see the realities of this pandemic as an opportunity to bring about reform. Larry Carlson, President and Chief Executive for United Methodist Communities writes about the need for more emotional and financial support for the senior housing and healthcare system https://ocnjdaily.com/letter-to-the-editor-senior-living-centers-cant-do-it-alone/.
Katie Smith Sloan is the President, and CEO of LeadingAge- the national voice for aging services providers. She discusses the "slow-motion catastrophe" that nursing homes were last on the list for federal COVID support. An Open Letter from Katie Smith, president of LeadingAge
The Front Line
Let's begin by acknowledging Mr. Carlson's observation about the societal negative narrative about the people who work in long term care. Facts:
- 4.5 million direct care workers support older adults and people with disabilities across the U.S
- Turnover is 40 - 60% because the work is difficult and workers are under-appreciated and under-paid
- 42% of direct care workers rely on some form of public assistance to make ends meet
Despite the discouraging realities of this work, millions show up every shift, on weekends and holidays, and even during a pandemic. In addition, they put themselves at risk to do the work that nobody else can or wants to do.
Direct care workers are concerned about the well-being of those in their care. Feedback from communities trained in Compassionate Touch reveals that despite the stress and time constraints, staff still find time to calm and reassure their residents with Compassionate Touch. Compassionate Touch®
These workers and the residents they care for deserve better- much better. They don't deserve disrespect or to be described as criminals. Furthermore, they deserve respect, esteem, and wages that reflect the societal value of growing old with dignity and quality care.
I hope that a higher level of respect and helpful attention for aging services will be an outgrowth of this pandemic.
Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare, Julie provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving for family and professional caregivers. In addition, she is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.