I’m refuting the Jan. 10 letter (“Safety in nursing homes”) stating that there probably aren’t enough compassionate caregivers here. As an elder care nurse for 28 years, I’ve witnessed compassionate care in ways too numerous to fit in a letter.
One doesn't work in nursing homes for glory or spectacular work environments — and certainly not for money. The demand to work short-staffed, holiday and weekend hours doesn’t draw many resumes, because these employees don’t aspire to fame or monetary compensation. Senior caregivers work to ensure dignified, comfortable and homelike care.
We need to look at the bigger picture and not point fingers at the innocent. A recent study concluded that Medicaid is the payer for 63% of nursing facility residents. This staggering statistic challenges facilities to stay afloat and provide safe, quality care. And thus we see benefit packages sliced, raises withheld and a lack of competitive wages.
Elder care is said to be the second-most regulated industry in the U.S., just behind nuclear energy. Facility reimbursements have barely budged in 10 years, yet Lancaster County continues to provide quality senior care.
It’s not a lack of compassion that increases hospitalizations or fosters cutting corners, but more a lack of equitable funding. Fair reimbursement would lead to better staffing and improved outcomes.
So before judgment is cast, I challenge the community to review the frightening realities facing our senior citizens and give thanks, not blame, to the very compassionate folks caring for a family’s loved ones.
Sheryl L. Fisher