The BIG Picture: What's in a (new) 'name'?

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John O'Connor, Editorial Director
John O'Connor, Editorial Director
When the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging meets in Los Angeles this fall, a major announcement will be made: The organization will officially unveil a new identity.

This promises to be a more sublime shift that the one we saw in 1994. That's when the American Association of Homes for the Aging simply added “and Services” to its letterhead. Only a few select people currently seem to know what the new label will be. But early indications are that the pending name will be dramatically different.

It's probably safe to say the organization won't simply add a few more words to an increasingly crowded identity. I don't expect the new title will be along the lines of the American Association of Institutional, Home, and Community Based Services for the Aging, Early Obese and Others We Neglected To Mention.

My only advice here is to be careful with the resulting acronym. Something along the lines of Serving Under Budgeted People At Retirement (SUBPAR) could inspire some very questionable headlines.

Fortunately for AAHSA, a top-notch organization has been brought in to find the right tool for the job. So such gaffes are unlikely.

My guess is that the new name will be something peppy, uplifting and brief. Maybe something like Zazz!! Regardless, the mystery will be solved around Halloween.

But it's not just AAHSA that's seeking a new moniker that's less likely to get mangled when pronounced. The leading consumer watchdog group is changing its name as well.

When Elma Holder helped launch the organization in 1975, it was originally known as The National Citizen's Coalition for Nursing Home Reform. In recent years, it has simply gone by its initials, which are usually pronounced “Nick-Ner.” As of June, the group is now The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care. Or if you prefer, Consumer Voice (see page 3).

Now there's nothing wrong with occasionally changing one's moniker. Purposes, social mores and body-weight distributions tend to shift over time. So the occasional adjustment makes sense.

Let's just hope that the renamed AAHSA remains dedicated to helping members deliver the best care possible to this nation's older, frailer people.

So long as that reality continues, the name on the front door will probably not really make very much of a difference.