As the government shut down over the weekend, it struck me once again: We in long-term care do not close our doors. Ever.

As I interpret the news — so many media outlets, so many views! — it was apparent that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] was, and is, a sticking point.

You have all heard the stories of dedicated staff who literally risk their lives walking through mountains of snow to get to work while others in other professions get to stay safely in their homes.

You know of the nursing home staff who stay at their facilities during hurricanes, bomb threats, floods, tornados and more.

But do we ever get good press for that? Heck no! And don’t even get me started on how Medicare and Medicaid dollars keep being sucked away — because, obviously, our vulnerable populations don’t deserve such entitlements. (To be clear: Yes, that was sarcasm, thank you!)

But should we worry that this DACA thing may affect us? I say yes.  

Currently, about 14,000 “Dreamers” work in the long-term care industry as healthcare workers, and many more are in support jobs.

Many start out as nursing assistants and go on to college to become licensed nurses.

Given that we work in a profession that constantly gets bad press — because Lord forbid anyone sheds light on the amazing stories of love, devotion and sacrifice that go on in our field — and becomes a less-desired field year after year, losing this constant workforce will definitely affect us.

So “Dream on” if you think DACA won’t affect us. Look at what could be the amazing diversity at your facility. Despite whatever your political views are, you need to make your voice heard on protecting our workforce.

Or just maybe we might have to shut our doors!

Just Keeping it Real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.