Gary Tetz

I know we have a lot on our minds these days. Little brain teasers like, how do we possibly replace the estimated 362,000 employees the long-term care profession has lost during the pandemic? A recent cheery report from AHCA/NCAL estimated it could be at least four years until the workforce recovers. How’s that for a mood-lifter?

Then, just when we thought our spirits couldn’t get any lower, Olivia Newton-John dies. For those not familiar with ancient history, she was the songstress of the 1970s, a decade that happened to coincide with a time in which I was living. Her angelic face on an album cover could hypnotize me for hours, and her voice melted my adolescent heart. 

Sadly, we drifted apart over the next few decades. It was my fault, really, as I pursued tumultuous and misguided relationships with temptresses like Pat Benatar, Tori Amos and Alanis Morissette. By the time I started missing her again, it was too late. One moment she’s here, the next she’s Olivia Newton-Gone. 

But as I’ve listened ruefully to her songs over the past couple of days, I realize they hold new resonance for the long-term care challenges we face, and are more timely and relevant than ever.

For instance, “You’re the One that I Want,” from the movie Grease, should clearly be the go-to recruitment anthem to be played for every reluctant candidate you interview. Or if you’re seeking a song that describes the loyalty of our remaining workforce to those they serve, you can’t possibly do better than, “Hopelessly Devoted to You.” 

When you’re frustrated and angry that long-term staff have to abide by stringent pandemic regulations that have been relaxed in most other healthcare settings, spend some quality time with Olivia, your new Zen master, listening to “Have You Never Been Mellow.” 

When you’re tired of empty words and demand tangible action, simply stand on the steps of the Capitol, boom box on your shoulder, blasting “If You Love Me Let Me Know” at passing lawmakers and regulators who could help mitigate this staffing crisis in so many ways. Hopefully, literal arm-twisting won’t be necessary, but you should probably have “Physical” at the ready, just in case.

If, with the help of Olivia and other industry lobbyists and advocates, your efforts are miraculously successful, perhaps you’ll finally find yourself in an idyllic “Xanadu” where providers have the resources to actually provide the care our seniors deserve. 

But if that’s not the way it works out, and you risk being demoralized by the cluelessness and inaction of powerful people who have never set foot in a long-term care facility, maybe “Don’t Stop Believin’” can help restore your positivity and resilience.

Because, after all, you’re “Magic,” and nothing can stand in your way.

Oh, one more thing: To all you readers who have stuck with me through more than 10 years of Things I Think, there’s a little something I need to say: “I Honestly Love You.” 

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the APEX Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.

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.