I wrote this article more than a month ago and have been hesitant to publish it, but feel compelled to, given the poor government response to the crushing burden of protecting residents and staff in the face of COVID.
I am fearful that this article will be dismissed simply as criticism and a complete lack of appreciation for all that these organizations have done. Trust me, I am watching. I am reading press releases and stories and watching videos.
But here is the thing . . .
It does not seem to be working.
Yes, I understand that the industry has received some scraps of help and, for sure, it is better than nothing.
The problem is that, at some point, the capital providers are going to say, “I can’t provide any more help.” And we are going to see companies collapse and residents and team members getting hurt above and beyond where we are at.
A Broken System
Growing old in America is so much less than it could be because the system for addressing the medical and living realities that come with aging is so, so broken. It does not work well and it is crazy expensive.
It is Fixable
There are 4 core elements that need to be addressed:
- Assistance with day to day living (what we call ADLs)
- Quality of life
We do none of these well. The first three are more expensive than they should be. And the fourth does not get the attention it should since we know it would reduce the cost footprint.
It won’t be easy because there are a lot of organizations that make a lot of money off the dysfunctional system we have today, particularly in the healthcare arena.
It won’t be easy because many government agencies and leaders will have to do things very differently.
It won’t be easy because the legal community that claims to care about patients is dependent.
IT IS TIME
It is time for our industry, the experts in caring for the oldest and frailest of our people, our tribe, our family, to rally together and propose a brand new plan that encompases healthcare and eldercare. The system we have today cannot be fixed with more patches and more money. What we have today is too damn expensive and provides, at best, mediocre services.
A new plan would allow more consumer choice and it would create more accountability on the part of providers. Just one simple example:
We know that many of the residents in nursing homes could be provided for in medical-model assisted living communities and that doing this would save hundreds of millions of dollars a year while giving those residents a much higher quality of life.
I know most nursing home provider readers will hate reading this. But honestly, at some point, people quit riding horses to work or using them to plow fields even though it put wagon and saddle makers out of business. Nursing homes will never be obsolete, so as an operator you have three choices:
- Be the best provider in your market and maybe even figure out how to compete with assisted living for more medically complex residents
- Figure out something else to do with your real estate
- Go out of business
There has never been a better time to make this happen. Everyone in the whole country, 100% of us, know the system is horribly broken. The only question is this:
Are we going to continue to be victims of the system
or are we going to rise up and take our rightful place as leaders?