Things I Think

Long-term care's 12th Man

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

Sometimes people can love too much. For instance, when love causes an earthquake, it might be time to pull back and examine the health of the relationship.

I live in Seattle Seahawks country, and when it comes to supporting our football team, we're pretty full of ourselves out here. We're called The 12th Man, after all, implying we're as important as an actual player on the field. And look, Mom, we can make the ground shake.

The first time was back in 2011 when Skittles-loving running back Marshawn Lynch tucked the ball under his arm, shifted into “Beast Mode” and single-handedly destroyed the Super Bowl dreams of the heavily favored New Orleans Saints. Our collective screams of joy that day registered on the seismograph at the University of Washington, and it happened again last Sunday, also against the Saints. It was all great fun, though I wonder if we should really be intentionally causing earthquakes in a city perched on a fault line

That's the nature of our culture, of course, where we can drum up a deafening roar of appreciation for things that don't matter, and barely a peep about things that do. Like the significant improvement in public opinion toward nursing home operators that Editor Jim Berklan blogged about last week. According to Gallup, it's at an all-time high in perceptions of honesty and ethical standards, finally ranking somewhere just above the occupational midline.

For all you kids out there who don't remember much about the last century or the first part of this one, that's a big deal. When I started writing about the long-term care profession back in 1999, I recall the media coverage being mostly tabloid horror stories, crusading patient advocates and lawmakers, scandals and bankruptcies. Some of the bad publicity was well deserved, some not. But the positive shift in perception since then is really something to jump around and scream about.

Not that you'll get the praise you merit. Not as long as we have spoiled athletes, talent-free pop stars and Kardashians to venerate. But in the absence of a country full of hysterical fans shouting your praises, your 12th man will continue to be your residents and their families. Your high customer satisfaction scores. Your improved outcomes data. Your multi-star ratings and quality awards.

None of that will register on the Richter scale. But for a historically beleaguered profession, it's earth-shaking indeed.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, who cobbles these pieces together from his secret lair somewhere near the scenic, wine-soaked hamlet of Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.

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Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.

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