Here in Florida, with its 3.5 million residents age 65 and older, we are especially grateful that our state ranks near the top in hosting high-quality skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers. National Nursing Home Week, which runs from Mother’s Day through this Saturday, May 17, features special activities and events to honor the residents and patients in those facilities and the caring individuals who help make their lives better.
The theme of this year’s Nursing Home Week is “Living the Aloha Spirit.” Most of us know that “aloha” means both hello and goodbye in Hawaiian, but it also holds much deeper meanings – love, affection and respect for others, a joyful sharing of life to create a better world. Those very values are at the heart of person-centered nursing care, as reflected in the dedication shown on a daily basis at nursing homes and other long term care centers.
Nursing Home Week provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on the many challenges that our society faces to ensure that elderly parents and others have access to the quality long term care services they need. Floridians can be proud of the care being delivered in our state’s nursing homes and the way our state lawmakers have made our seniors a priority. With one of the highest staff-to-resident ratios anywhere, Florida’s nursing homes rank second in the nation in the number of facilities earning the top five-star rating. Customer satisfaction is at an all-time high. And in the recent legislative session, lawmakers made long-term care residents a priority by adopting a care-centered budget that preserves Medicaid funding for nursing home care and triples the personal needs allowance that enhances nursing home residents’ quality of life.
Just as importantly, the week of May 11-17 is a great time to recognize the thousands of outstanding caregivers who work tirelessly every day to deliver compassionate care to the residents they serve. I also encourage you to visit a loved one, friend, acquaintance or veteran who is being cared for in a local long term care facilities. Take some time with family to reach out and let a nursing home resident or patient know you are thinking of them. Visit them in person if you can, or at least make a phone call, send a card or flowers, or even send an email.
However you reach out, the important thing is that you do it. It will make all the difference in their day, and the special attention will surely help someone catch that “Aloha Spirit.”
Emmett Reed is Executive Director of Florida Health Care Association, the state’s first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the residents under their care. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.