Not long ago there were comments on Facebook about "Put the Elderly in Prison." This post referred to senior living communities as prison for older adults. Our Vice President of Quality Services Vicki Loucks responded to this comment with her own message.
"I have recently seen a post that some of you have shared called “We Should Put the Elderly in Prison”. I have to tell you that I am offended by that. As an RN who has worked in Long Term Care for 20+ years now I can tell that comparing Long Term Care to Prison is not a fair comparison. Your post notes that prisoners receive three meals a day, a daily shower, video surveillance, access to a library, computer and TV, a gym, doctors on site and free medication. Let me tell you the TRUTH about long term care…in our communities, our elders receive three meals per day, under the direction of our Executive Chef, we have at least one large library in each of our communities featuring a variety of books, we also have computer access for all of our elders, AND we provide technology education to assist them. Elders choosing to live with us have access to a state of the art gym and access to a personal trainer. We also provide doctors on site every day as well as free medication if needed and our buildings provide secure access including, but not limited to, video surveillance. Walk through our hallways and you’ll see tailgate parties in our pub during Steeler's, Pirate's or Penguin's games, elders engaged in community service projects and a host of recreational activities. You might see a men's barbeque on the back patio with ribs and beer or a fashion show featuring this Fall’s line, but you won’t see lights out at 7:00!
Your post, you see, doesn’t take into account the tireless hours the caregivers provide daily to assist elders with the basics – dressing, bathing, dining, mobility, etc. You also don’t take into consideration the fact that we do what we do every day with inadequate government funding…but we do it anyway, because, in many cases, it’s our mission. There are many great organizations out there that work diligently every day to provide the highest quality services to this Greatest Generation – if you are interested in learning more about what really happens in long term care, come visit me at Redstone Highlands Communities, or take a look at the websites/facebook pages of LeadingAge, or the Pennsylvania Culture Change Coalition – you’ll see how wrong the prison comparison actually is.
To all the caregivers out there who have read that post and are feeling badly about your job as a result of it – I say to you don’t hang your head! I stand proudly beside you and say I am a long term care worker! I’m going to work today and I will make a difference for the elders that I care for. You see, I don’t have to do this job, I GET to do this job and it’s an honor every day!