Put those loudmouth family members to work

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James M. Berklan
James M. Berklan

Think of that loudest, most argumentative family you've ever had the, ahem, pleasure of serving. Remember the headaches and heartburn they put you through? 

The uneasy drives to work spent wondering what they might do today to make your day a living hell?

Now, think of them as your best friend. That's just what you ought to be shooting for. Yes, of course, friends as in satisfied purchasers of your services for their loved one. But also friends in the "allies" sense.

Whoever said politics makes strange bedfellows could have a field day with this one.

Your most outspoken critic could, indirectly at least, become your biggest booster. The release of the House GOP Obamacare replacement plan seems to put everyone in agreement on at least one thing: The elderly are going to see direct care funding or access reductions. How much will be lost or foregone? Well now your answer to that will likely reveal your political persuasion.

But seniors — and those who take care of them — seem to have big red X's on their backs. That puts you and family members on the same side of the blanket. When someone touts how much the government can save, it's always at someone else's expense. In this case, it looks to be the elderly and their complex care conditions, as well as the caregivers who get paid to take care of them. 

Unless ... lawmakers can be persuaded differently, or at least to soften the blow. On Wednesday, there were signs of fissures on the GOP front, both in the House and in the Senate. How much hot air can be injected into those cracks to shatter the Republican ruling rock is yet to be seen, however. But it would not be unreasonable to think some changes to the currently proposed policy can be negotiated.

This is where your opinionated, vociferous family members can prove effective. While concerned healthcare providers can make an impression on lawmakers, it is the regular voting citizens who can be much more compelling. You want to mess with my grandmother, great-aunt, father, mother or some other loved one who would be harmed by payment cuts or caps, Mr. Politician? That's a vote you're risking. No, that's multiple votes since many of the residents/patients can still pull a lever themselves against you come Election Day.

So before you, as a provider, run for cover or try to deflect your biggest family complainers, the next time they come around, tell them you have a deal for them. Make sure they know the political lay of the land and what it could mean for their loved one's care.

They can generate calls, letters and complaints that their elected representatives would be foolish to ignore. This time, make it the officeholders who get the headaches and heartburn. Why should you hog all the fun?

Follow James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.