The life of a nursing home administrator revealed

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Therapists have a well-known, age-old tactic for dealing with frustration, or those occasions when it seems like coping skills won’t be enough. The idea is to write a letter, discuss what irks you most and let it all hang out. Then tear up the letter, without sending it.

Elliott Cahan almost does just that. A former Maryland nursing home administrator, he holds that the common man, woman and regulator just don’t understand nursing home administrators. Can’t imagine where he gets that idea.

So Cahan not only wrote a letter, he wrote an entire book. It covers his experiences learning the profession and dealing with politicians, regulators and family members. And, of course, residents.
Thankfully, he didn’t tear it up. Frustrated administrators might want to thank him for that, for they likely will see (or hear) themselves in much of what Cahan writes.

His self-produced book, “A Place Like Home: Candid Reflections of a Nursing Home Administrator,” tries to explain all the obstacles that administrators have to contend with. He tells it from the point of view of someone who first worked at a for-profit facility (not so fun) and then a nonprofit provider (better, but ultimately still not satisfying enough).

It focuses on explaining to civilians what goes on in nursing facilities. That means much of it acts as a primer to the profession you might already know so well. But there’s also plenty of introspection among these 184 pages—soul searching that most administrators would be tough to deny also exists in their bones.

While this handsome hardcover may have benefited from more professional editing and publishing, you can’t mistake its earnestness. This is an administrator who dove into his work and notably was appointed by Maryland’s governor to sit on a state oversight committee for nursing homes. His aspirations were even higher, he admits, only furthering the notion that he yearns to be knee-deep in the long-term care profession.

It’s a tough system to deal with, isn’t it? Hopefully after reading this, somebody outside the profession will take heed.

“A Place Like Home: Candid Reflections of a Nursing Home Administrator” can be obtained by clicking here:

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.