Friday, January 15, 2010

Insurance company goes too far

It is so easy to take a good thing too far. A large insurance company (who shall remain nameless) created an advertising campaign that has now evolved into their responsibility project. Their definition of responsibility is doing the right thing, so their project is to help us do the right thing.

One of the project’s commercials includes a scene of a woman trying to decide if she should place her dad in a nursing home. The spot ends with dad sitting around the happy family dining table as everyone laughs and titters, and dad (who seems slightly confused) sings.

Now I freely admit that the ministry I work for is in large part a nursing home provider, so I am biased. But why does one group have to lose and another one win? It doesn’t have to be that way. I don’t know many people that choose to go to a nursing home. People go their because they need care from skilled, loving professionals 24-7. The people who live in nursing homes require near-constant attention: nurses to monitor and assess, medications, meals, toileting, activities, housekeeping, laundry…. Many people are there for intensive rehab on their way home from a knee or hip replacement. It’s quite a production, and it happens every day and night including Christmas!

Ask someone if they want to go to a nursing home and the answer is no. Ask someone if they want to have brain surgery and the answer is no. Oops…unless the person NEEDS the nursing home or needs brain surgery. Then the answer is a resounding yes! It is cruel and disingenuous to offer a choice where there is no choice.

I have never seen a nursing home that wanted a person who didn’t need to be there. I am in favor of staying in my own home as long as I can, and the same for you. But we are working real hard to make sure that North Carolina is creating the type of nursing home I want to live in, if and when the day comes when I need nursing home care.

Nursing homes do not care for people who can stay in their own home, unless the people are very wealthy. Anyone who says otherwise is telling you a half truth. A person who needs a sitter a few hours a day, or a nurse to drop by a give a shot once a day, or visits a day care center 2 days a week, does not need a nursing home. Nursing homes are for people who need skilled professionals around the clock. 24-7 certified nursing assistant care alone would cost at least 33% more than skilled care, and that doesn’t include housing, utilities, nurses, and all the other services provided by a quality health care provider.

While the insurance company is on the right track with the responsibility project, they were irresponsible in subtly bashing nursing homes. Dad” and everyone else involved should decide what is the best place for Dad to live. Then it doesn’t have to be a win for some and a loss for others. Let’s all win.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

It's a new year! Salisbury was dead quiet this morning when I came to work. Since it's a holiday and a Friday there are a number of people taking the day off. But there are still five or so folks working at the LSA Office - always work to be done and things happening in an organization of our size that cares for people 24 hours every day, including the New Year's holiday.

LSA operations are completely different from the rest of the world and I want to make sure the world remembers that. At the stroke of midnight last night: nursing assistants were making rounds to check on and meet the every need of hundreds of residents around LSA; laundry staff are washing clothes, nurses were assessing and monitoring and delivering care. Some residents stayed up to watch the ball drop in Time Square, and shared a "Happy New Year" with staff. Many of our independent living people were partying, or at least stayed up to watch in the New Year. At 5 and 7 am this morning while many of us were asleep, cooks were starting the stoves, nursing assistants started assisting residents with all of their daily activities, independent living residents headed for breakfast and to lead their normal lives, nurses began treatments and delivering medications, staff put all the washers and dryers in service, maintenance staff is monitoring and repairing, housekeepers began mopping and cleaning, administrative staff arrived to answer phones and go about their neverending work, and on and on and on.... Over 700 staff will have worked before the day is over!

We take for granted that all of that care and service just happens by magic. Care and life doesn't just happen at LSA either. Care and life happens at every long term care organization, hospital, etc. in the world. And it happens in our homes as we care for loved ones there.

Let's pause to remember all those in need and all those care givers who meet those needs! Let's remember! And let's say a prayer for all. Happy New Year!