6 steps to manage post-election reactions in LTC

Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:


6 steps to manage post-election reactions in LTC

The 2016 presidential election has revealed a deep rift in our country, and quite possibly in our long-term care facilities as well.

While some employees and residents are pleased about the election results, it’s likely that others in your community are considerable less so.

An informal survey of my fellow geropsychologists revealed the following situations occurring in their nursing homes:

• Staff arguments regarding politics.

• Anger in residents, some of whom are misdirecting their anger.

• Residents and staff members who are dismayed, distraught or depressed regarding the election results and the direction of the country.

• Residents reporting that staff members told them they voted for Trump but asked them to keep this secret because they don’t want their Clinton-supporting coworkers to know.

• Staff who openly voted for and are discussing their Trump votes with clients as a point of pride, without recognizing the impact on their disabled clients after Trump’s mocking of a disabled person.

• Transgender residents concerned they are going to be “outed” and will be refused the medication they’ve been taking for years to maintain their health.

• Aides and other staff (housekeeping, kitchen workers) crying in staff lounges out of fear that some of their family members might be deported and that they, too, would have to return to their country of origin because they wouldn’t be able to afford to stay here on their own. As they shared their fears with their respective residents, the possibility that their beloved aide might leave them added to the anxiety the resident might have already felt about the election results.

• Staff concerned about their jobs and the future of healthcare; residents fearful they will no longer be eligible for Medicaid if the laws change.

Certainly not every facility is experiencing such reactions — a psychologist working in a VA home indicated that the veterans seemed generally positive about the prospect of President Trump.

Another psychologist reported that a Romanian Holocaust survivor was pleased with Trump’s win because he’d feared the country was moving toward a socialist model he’d unhappily lived through previously.

With our diverse population of residents and staff members, however, it’s likely there are at least some people in our communities who are experiencing distress and would benefit from reassurance and support from those in charge.

Here are 6 ways to accomplish this:

1. If you haven’t already done so, send a memo requesting that staff members refrain from discussing politics, especially in front of residents.

2. Reiterate to staff members the corporate policies regarding discrimination and express a commitment to a fair and bias-free environment.

For the entire article, visit:

6 steps to manage post-election reactions in LTC


5 thoughts on “6 steps to manage post-election reactions in LTC”

  1. I have not read the whole article but, I’m sorry, I don’t get this one, unless it’s provided as a means for offering a political opinion. Is LTC referring to Long-term Care nursing homes or comfortable retirement communities in Los Angeles or the affluent East? Its hard to imagine the latest election returns provoking an internal crisis within MidWestern located nursing homes, populated largely with geriatric dementia residents. Such matters would not catch or hold that residents attention. She is using all her energy instead trying to elope thru doors and make it to her grandmothers house for Sunday dinner. That resident could be easily convinced Lyndon Johnson was president, and actually, that might be the residents inflamed argument: whether FDR or Lyndon Johnson was the newly elected official. The staff at that LTC do not generally commute long distances for their lowly paid positions. They live within a common area and tend to be similar in mindset, political arguments are rare. Distraught political reaction is not an LTC concern. Ask a typical LTC resident.

    • Imogenepillsbury, while not all long-term care residents are focused on outside events, there are many residents who are paying attention and have been emotionally affected by the results of the election. The article was based on actual reactions from actual residents and staff members across the country.

  2. I am one of few currently replying to these blog entries. Forgive me but you seem to dislike differing opinion. The LTC community you generally describe is not at all what I’m accustomed to. Maybe one or the other of our titles need revision. Most of the residents I encounter are completely incapable of forming and offering reactions to wordly events. Its almost impossible to mobilize them in an environmental catastrophe. This inability to appropriately respond is within their diagnosis, why they require continual care. I guess I’m wondering, is there a definition for the LTC community you represent with this blog?

  3. I appreciate your taking the time to comment, Imogenepillsbury. I realize that long-term care encompasses a wide range of facilities and experiences and I’m always open to hearing about these differences. That’s part of what makes the field so interesting. My initial reply to you was based on your comment that “Distraught political reaction is not an LTC concern. Ask a typical LTC resident,” suggesting that I had not done so and was fabricating the article. It adds to the discussion to learn from you that the residents you’re seeing in facilities are too confused to be aware of the election and that your staff members are such a homogenous group that they don’t have differing opinions on the results. That has not been my experience, nor has it been the experience of many of the other psychologists who contributed to the piece. Perhaps some of the differences might be accounted for by city versus country locations or by memory care versus short-term rehab units, though some of my distressed residents were long-term residents who need physical care due to disabilities such as visual impairment or an inability to ambulate and are perfectly intact in terms of memory.

  4. ok. This is a situation of geography, attitude, economy, and the many differences therein. The LTC facilities I mention with any familiarity are in Missouri, southern Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky. Certainly there are specialty units but more prevalent seem to be nursing homes, populated by geriatric residents declined and disabled beyond independent ability. These states are among the areas, feeling forgotten and misrepresented, that voted in favor of current election results which ultimately demonstrated preference across the country. I would still maintain their LTC facilities are not experiencing undue concern over the election outcome, not anyway beyond its ability to negatively affect their ongoing concerns of obtaining care, paying for care and providing staff for continuity of care.


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