“Legislators really need to hear from people working in the [long-term care] industry,” Edward M. Kennedy Jr., son of the late senator, told a crowd at the 60th annual meeting of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association on Tuesday.

Lawmakers often respond more to personal stories than to visits from hired lobbyists, Kennedy said. His father, for example, would begin to really take notice of an issue after he had received five letters from different people on the subject, he said. Many of the provisions in the healthcare reform bills being debated in Congress will affect long-term care providers and residents. Kennedy, who works as a lawyer and advocate for the civil rights of people with disabilities, urged the crowd to send letters, emails and make phone calls on behalf of the industry.

Edward Kennedy Sr., who died earlier this year, was responsible for the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act legislation that is part of the House healthcare reform bill. The act would create a long-term care disability insurance trust. The Massachusetts Senior Care Association represents more than 500 nursing facilities, assisted living residences and continuing care retirement communities.