Prior to COVID-19, nursing homes were almost exclusively seen by the public as grim places to be avoided. People didn’t want to “end up” there, family members usually exhausted all possible avenues of care prior to admission, and sometimes relatives didn’t visit because they found it “too depressing.”
Yet we in the field know the reality that, despite the challenges of the work, dedicated caregivers bring joy and comfort to residents on a daily basis.
The pandemic has increased public awareness of the long-term care industry and, along with the usual negative stories, there’s an increasing view that residents and staff were failed during COVID-19 by forces larger than any single nursing home.
The situation has opened a rare window of receptivity in society to recognize the needs of elders and their caregivers. There’s an opportunity right now to make use of this sentiment to engage the public in the mission of long-term care.
This is a good time to emphasize that each nursing home is an essential resource for its community. When families need rehab or skilled nursing care for their loved ones, they look for reliable facilities close to home. We can make use of this moment to strengthen community connections and heighten the recognition of the importance and value of nursing homes.