Recognizing those who provide care

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Column by Ruby Jo Cummins Lubarsky

How fitting it is the beginning of National Nursing Home Week is Mother’s Day, May 12. What an opportunity to remember our most cherished loved ones. Mother’s Day is one of the busiest and most exciting days of the year for nursing homes. It is a day when family members make a point to visit, share memories and appreciate the people who have impacted their lives.

I am proud of our Kentucky facilities as they prepare to make sure residents enjoy every moment with their families on this special day.

But let’s not forget family comes in many forms. Just ask any of the nursing home caregivers at one of Kentucky’s 285 care facilities. Dedicated nurses, aides and volunteers work around the clock, caring for and providing our loved ones with the comforts of home. Working as a caregiver is a challenging responsibility, but the undeniable relationships formed between staff and residents, many of whom become as close as family, make the profession rewarding.

Unfortunately, the great lengths caregivers go to provide quality care for our residents often is overshadowed by the many misperceptions surrounding nursing homes. The vast majority of those who have had a loved one in a nursing home have experienced the outstanding service provided by these caregivers. They know the true stories of dedication because they’ve experienced them firsthand.

That is why it is very important to take time during National Nursing Home Week to recognize those who take care of our loved ones each and every day.

Kentuckynursing homes operate in all of our commonwealth’s 120 counties providing care to more than 23,000 residents, 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. Federal government data ranks Kentucky’s nursing homes among the highest in the nation for staffing levels and quality care. There simply is no doubt that the 30,000 Kentuckians employed by our industry take pride in providing the best possible environment for our loved ones.

But numbers only tell part of the story. I know this because I have seen it firsthand in nursing facilities across Kentucky. I’ve seen the dedication, patience and caring attention Kentucky’s nursing home caregivers provide. In many instances, they are caring for people they have known all their lives – school teachers, piano instructors, Sunday school leaders, and neighbors.

National Nursing Home Week is a time when we in the long term care profession hope others will take a moment to recognize the value of the nursing homes in their community and gain a better appreciation for the excellent care we provide.

Most importantly, this is a time to thank the dedicated caregivers who perform often selfless tasks every day. It is a time to remember the critical role these caregivers play in the lives of our loved ones, often filling-in for, although not replacing, the role of family members in their everyday lives.

If you are celebrating Mother’s Day with your mom in a nursing home, take a moment this week to thank those who are dedicated to providing her a quality place to call home.

Ruby Jo Cummins Lubarsky is president of the Kentucky Association of Healthcare Facilities.