National Nursing Home Week: Celebrating the seasons of life

National Nursing Home Week: Celebrating the seasons of life

By Cheryl Lowney, CNA

By Cheryl Lowney, CNA

As National Nursing Home Week begins May 12, this is a good time for Americans to salute the dedicated work of caregivers throughout our nation. Under the most difficult of circumstances, they provide compassionate service to our most vulnerable seniors and developmentally disabled. It is also a time to reflect on the way our country cares for our nation’s frail, elderly and disabled.

Attending to another person’s health and well-being remains one of the finest and noblest callings, and the more than 100,000 men and women working in Illinois’ 1,200 long-term care facilities and programs demonstrate daily their commitment to helping others.

While we commend our caregivers, it’s essential to note that there are not enough skilled nursing staff—licensed nurses and Certified Nurse Assistants—to serve our present and future patient populations. This is emerging as one of the most critical problems facing America’s health care system. In order to begin solving problems that impact our future, it’s necessary to learn from our past. Shortages of key workers in other critical areas have, over the years, been met with focused and effective bipartisan efforts from our Washington policy makers.

Early in the 1990s, for example, our nation faced a shortage of both teachers and police officers that prompted the call for a national effort to recruit, train and employ these workers. The president and Congress worked cooperatively to find and fill many of these positions by increasing various incentives for entry into these fields.

Close to a decade later, our nation finds itself dangerously short of qualified nursing staff, just as the baby-boom generation approaches and will increase the overall demand for nursing care. We face a problem no less critical than we did just a few short years ago and, without a doubt, our elected officials must make nursing recruitment, training and employment a national priority. It’s important to let our elected officials know that solving this problem is essential if we are to ensure our seniors retain access to quality nursing care.

The fact that Mother’s Day coincides with the beginning of National Nursing Home Week should give us pause to consider the many challenges to long-term care that must be addressed so that our mothers, parents, friends and neighbors receive the care and dignity they deserve in their golden years. Celebrating the seasons of life, our theme this year, should be a time to say thanks for all of life’s experiences.

This week, let’s consider what we, as a nation, must do to strengthen our system of nursing care, and recognize the talented and compassionate individuals who work day in and day out in nursing homes throughout Illinois and our country. Without a doubt, our caregivers are indispensable, and ensure a better quality of life for some two million people in need every year in America’s 17,000 nursing facilities while also providing peace of mind to their family members and friends.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!