Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Glad I'm not Atria Today

Today I received an email alert from Oregon Health Care Association that included this:

"Union Campaign to Improve Assisted Living's Report ReleasedOn July 9, the Campaign to Improve Assisted Living, "Assisted Living's Broken Promises: A Case Study of the Atria Senior Living Group." ...This report signals what we may expect from this group in the future as we anticipate that they may issue similar reports on other assisted living providers in a fashion similar to efforts targeting nursing homes nearly a decade ago. "

Check out this information and you'll also be glad you're not Atria today. This site is sponsored by the SEIU Healthcare, whose implicit goals are to recruit new union members from the vast pool of assisted living employees, many of whom are admittedly living at very low wages, doing very challenging jobs.

But creating bus stop ads, newspaper ads, and displaying postcards from family members on their website - all in relation to the poor job Atria is supposedly doing...I'm just glad I'm not Atria today!

I must say, however, that I got a smile out of the postcard note displayed on the site that, while indicating that a few changes would be nice, also said,

"The employees are caring and compassionate."

That pretty much sums it up, in my opinion. Assisted living employees ARE, by and large, caring and compassionate.

It's up to us to provide them the training, resources and support they need to continue to care. Without negative ads, please!

Finally, thanks to ALFA for creating this new website in response: Chose Assisted Living. It is a beautiful tribute to those individuals who have dedicated their lives and careers to providing care to seniors, and a great tool for professionals to use to help seniors and their families understand assisted living even better as a cost effective solutions to support seniors who wish to remain as independent as possible.

Caregiving is the Buy of the Century

Last weekend we traveled to Chicago to visit our middle daughter who is studying and working at an internship there. It was my first trip to this city, and, not knowing where to go or stay my husband and I chose a hotel via the internet based strictly on location - it was the only choice close to our daughter's apartment.

We clearly should have checked the number of stars this hotel had received in the past - it was a dump. I truly believe that no maintenance person had touched the building in the last decade - or two.

Despite this condition, the daily room rate was $179. Maybe that's cheap for Chicago, but here's the math I found myself doing in my head:

$179 bought us a room with clean sheets and towels and not much else. The upkeep was deplorable, and we got no meals or additional services for this price.

If we stayed here for a month, the cost would be about $5,370.

According to the MetLife Market Survey of Assisted Living Costs (October 2006) the typical cost for assisted living in the U.S. is $2,968 per month, or less than $100 per day.

And for that, you typically get 3 meals each day, laundry service, housekeeping and at least a minimum of care services.

What an incredible value Assisted Living is! Spread the word!

Friday, July 6, 2007

No shortage of workers IF ONLY...

Today's email brought this e-newsletter from a great organization, "Quality Jobs/Quality Care":
"If some people are fashion-conscious, I guess you'd have to call me fashion-unconscious, but this issue's New from Health Care for Health Care Workers box includes evidence of the kind of trend that gets me excited: Over the last month or so, two states have voted to extend health care to thousands of home care workers. Both Montana and New York are covering many -- though not all -- of the workers in their states who are currently uninsured or in danger of becoming uninsured very shortly. And both states are doing it by increasing their reimbursement to providers and requiring that the extra funds be spent on health insurance coverage for employees. iPhone, schmiPhone. Now this is a bandwagon worth hopping onto. "
(Thanks, Elise Nakhnikian, editor)

I SO agree with this! Anything we can do to support caregivers and keep the best in this work is worth everyone's support - everyone in the broadest sense of the word meaning us - taxes - government. Also noted in this e-newsletter is the testimoney of Steven L. Dawson, president of the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, before the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on the Future Health Care Workforce for Older Americans:

"There is no mystery here: If tomorrow we paid these individuals a livable income, offered them health insurance, trained them better, supervised and supported them--listened to them--we would solve this unnecessary 'workforce crisis' in a matter of months."

Those providing care genuinely do CARE; as a society we need to find systematic ways to support them. I applaud the initiatives that Montana and New York have begun. It's up to all of us to continue to support and promote system-wide changes so that we all will see the benefit when it's our turn - or our loved ones' turn - to need care.

Monday, July 2, 2007

We are Not Alone

Here's the take home message from the past couple of weeks: we're not alone as individuals struggling to care for our parents (and grandparents) as well as our children (and grandchildren).

As our generation ages, many millions of us are now in the sandwich generation, looking for good quality care for our aging parents while keeping all the other balls in the air. News reports on the network news, articles in major magazines and internet stories all confirm this fact: we're not alone.

As more and more of us face these challenges, the marketplace phenomena occurs: things change to respond to needs and demands. Nursing home become much more user friendly (did you catch the featured nursing home that Charlie Gibson visited whose hub was the kitchen, not the nurses station?); support options increase.

Those of us in the profession of senior care and services need to stay in the loop or we'll be left behind by more responsive, innovative providers. It's time to change - and it's time to support each other in this journey.