Dr. El

I have to admit that when I saw the news headline last week, “BREAKING: CMS cuts SNF pay rates by net $320 million,” I felt a kick-’em-while-they’re-down discouragement.

I’m concerned, like others, about how facilities currently struggling financially are going to make it to the anticipated period when demographic shifts will lead to full beds and thriving enterprises.

As a psychologist, I’m also mindful of the emotional impact of these news stories. The nursing home business has never been easy, but since the pandemic, it’s been vastly more difficult, with facility closures, large numbers of staff members departing, and new recruits hard to come by. 

It’s telling and unsettling that my most popular column in 2021 was titled, “How to keep working in LTC (when you’re not sure how much more you can take).”

A recent headline, “BREAKING: U.S. nursing home system ‘ineffective,’ ‘unsustainable,’ National Academies report says,” succinctly summarized the vast challenges of the field. While I agree with what I read of the quoted report (I got about 400 pages in and then my flight landed), I wish for news that offers encouragement and support for weary long-term care providers. 

It’s likely that different titles would spark hope regarding the direction of the field depending on what role one has in the industry. 

Here are some breaking news headlines I’d like to read:

“CMS appoints psychologist to monitor emotional impact of policies on providers”

“Billionaire donates fortune to study cost-effective ways to offer quality eldercare services”

“Research reveals psychosocial focus key to LTC financial success”

“CMS mandates Chief Experience Officer position for all LTC homes”

“Review: 95% of nursing home management companies operate in good faith”

“Owners with criminal convictions prohibited from further facility ownership”

“Community rallies to save local nursing home”

“Innovation Center establishes ‘Family Caregiver School’ to improve collaboration between families and healthcare providers”

“Thinktank finds government-sponsored end-of-life family counseling cuts costs, leads to ‘better’ deaths”

“Initiative to study needs of seniors with severe mental illness”

“New program for elders with physical and mental illness significantly reduces health expenses: ‘We’re finally getting the support we need,’ thriving members say”

“CNA training and salary advances improve staff retention and care quality, reduce rehospitalizations and costs”

“Career ladder for CNAs now LTC norm”

How likely is it that we’ll be seeing any of these headlines any time soon? Perhaps if that 600-page report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is followed, and backed up by funding, some of these headlines might come true. 

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 andGold Medalist in the Blog-How To/Tips/Service category in their Midwest Regional competition. To contact her for speaking engagements, visit her at EleanorFeldmanBarbera.com.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.