I understand the sentiment among those who would prefer that long-term care not be called a business.
After all, it’s not like operators are making widgets. In fact, they are providing care and comfort to residents who surely need both. The work done in this field is hugely driven by empathy, compassion and a strong desire to make a difference. When done well, it is easily among the most noble of callings.
To be sure, it’s not an endeavor that anyone or everyone should attempt. The days can be long and arduous. The physical and psychological demands never seem to end. And for many of the frontline people who must literally do the heavy lifting, the pay and perks are not exactly a catalyst for intergenerational wealth.
Maybe it’s because of these unique factors that a palpable bond connects so many people in this field. For many, it represents more of a calling than a paycheck.
But with all due respect, I feel compelled to make a simple request: Can we stop pretending this is not a business?
I still get chiding letters saying that to do so is misguided if not wrong. And I understand where such writers might be coming from. To them, describing this sector as a business is practically an insult. But it isn’t.
Here’s how my dictionary defines what a business is: “An organization or economic system where goods and services are exchanged for one another or for money.” So unless your organization is delivering services without being reimbursed, you are, in fact, engaged in business activity.
Moreover, if federal figures are to be believed, more than $150 billion is spent in long-term care each year.
As it happens, the American Health Care Association, the National Investment Conference and LeadingAge each will be holding their largest annual get-togethers during October. Perhaps you are attending the first of these meetings as you read this. If so, invite you to look around. Is business taking place in the expo halls and elsewhere?
At the NIC show, 9 in 10 attendees, or thereabouts, typically report that their attendance leads to deals taking place. Ka-ching!
As for LeadingAge, the event will have more expo hall booths than the two other shows combined.
Referring to this sector as a business does not reduce or impugn the compassion or care that makes it unique.
But failing to acknowledge the obvious brings to mind a famous line. You know, the one about a certain large river not being limited to Egypt.
John O’Connor is McKnight’s Editorial Director.