Dr. El
Dr. El

The Oscars kind of bug me. In the gloom of winter, it can be hard not to notice that the extravaganza is filled with self-congratulatory workers wearing clothes that cost more than the yearly salary of several nursing aides. 

Rather than stew, however, about the puzzling priorities of the world, I’ve decided to award my own Oscars.

Drum roll, please…

The award for best Costume Design goes to those workers who rock their uniforms. Holiday-themed ensembles, crisply starched tops, well-groomed hair and a kind attitude all speak volumes about the people who wear them, the pride they take in their work and their willingness to help elders.

Best Production Design goes to the maintenance departments, who manage to keep facilities functioning on an essential level and ensure that the surroundings look top-notch. From repairing air conditioners to fixing dresser drawers to rectifying all the many behind-the-scenes glitches, the maintenance crews renew well-worn buildings, creating inviting, trustworthy foundations for care.

Best Foreign Language Film goes to CMS for their efforts to provide guidance to long-term care operators and staff.

Best Original Score goes to the recreation staff who tirelessly provide musical entertainment, engaging activities and meaningful pursuits in a setting more focused on the health of bodies than on that of minds and hearts. Therapeutic recreation is the soundtrack in the lives of residents.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling goes to the aides who thoughtfully tend to the appearance of their charges, helping residents feel worthy of personal attention and more like their best selves in a frequently impersonal environment. A shout-out to the barbers and hairdressers who come into facilities and work their magic for modest fees for people in need. 

Best Documentary Feature goes to the geropsychologists who spend their days talking with seniors about their lives, their loves and their losses, assisting them in navigating medical problems, end of life issues, family concerns and institutional living.

Best Visual Effects goes to the housekeeping staff who transform trashed rooms into sparkling accommodations, keeping residents, families and staff free from contagion and healthcare-associated infections. 

Best Original Song goes to the food service workers who go beyond bland and monotonous food offerings to provide a menu that causes residents to sing its praises.

Best Live Action Short Film goes to the nurses and docs who spring into action during health emergencies, saving the lives of residents who want to be saved and kindly letting go of those who don’t. 

Best Documentary (Short) goes to the hospice providers who surround dying residents and their families with comfort and care, seeing them through to a gentler end.

Best Adapted Screenplay goes to the rehab departments who assist residents in adjusting to physical changes so that they can make the most of the abilities they retain.

Best Original Screenplay goes to the social workers who take time to tailor their responses to the specific needs of residents and their families, and to the administrators who make sure there are enough well-trained social workers to perform this indispensable function.

Best Picture goes to publications like McKnight’s LTC News, who help those in the industry makes sense of new developments, shifting regulations and evolving standards of care.

Best Director goes to the administrators, CEOs and C-Suite execs who manage to keep organizations afloat while never losing sight of the fact that long-term care is, first and foremost, a business of caring about people and their families during an extremely vulnerable point in their lives. 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role goes to family members who show up consistently for their loved ones while taking care of themselves so they can be there for the long haul. 

Best Actor in a Leading Role goes to residents who are the stars of their own personal health dramas, bravely facing medical decisions, painful procedures, insurance nightmares and altered abilities with strength, courage and fortitude. 

On behalf of geropsychologists everywhere, I’m honored to accept this Oscar for Documentary Feature and I’d like to thank my family, my coworkers, my patients and oh-my-gosh, so many people. If I’ve forgotten to mention you, you know who you are.


Eleanor Feldman Barbera, Ph.D., author of The Savvy Resident’s Guide, is an Award of Excellence winner in the Blog Content category of the APEX Awards for Publication Excellence program. She also is a Bronze Medalist for Best Blog in the American Society of Business Publication Editors national competition and a Gold Medalist in the Blog-How To/Tips/Service category in their Midwest Regional competition. To contact her for speaking engagements and/or content writing, visit her award-winning website at MyBetterNursingHome.com or her new website at EleanorFeldmanBarbera.com.