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November 1, 2003
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Ready for Some Networking? by Richard L. Peck, Editor-in-Chief

Ready for Some Networking?

BY RICHARD L. PECK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF I once had a friend who, having just lost a job, signed on with an employment-counseling agency to the tune of a precious $2,000. For his money, he got instruction in how to contact people he knew throughout his industry to check on possible job openings. This was 25 years ago-he hadn't heard of the term that everyone uses so familiarly these days: "networking." Lessons in networking seem too commonsense to pay for now, but he said at the time that the investment made him feel as though he was at least doing something. And it did pay off in a productive job tip from one of his network buddies (eight months later).

Now is the time for long-term care leaders to consider the virtues of networking, if they're not doing so already. The thought occurs to me because of a handsome brochure I received recently from long-term care visionary William V. Day, president of the St. Barnabas Health System, an extraordinary eldercare campus based in western Pennsylvania. St. Barnabas incorporates everything from an historic nursing home to spacious independent housing, with a beautifully designed theater thrown in. For the past 16 years the organization has sponsored a half-day session exploring the local business climate. The audience consists of a blue-ribbon roster of local industry, professional, and government leaders. It is networking par excellence.

This type of session, it occurred to me, would be an ideal forum for a thorough discussion of today's issues in long-term care. These people, after all, represent the businesses that must accommodate the growing number of caregivers in their midst; must look into providing, and perhaps even contributing to, long-term care insurance; must review crucial investments in long-term care facilities. These are the government officials who are struggling to provide decent supportive services on a financial shoestring.

It's a good bet, too, these days that many of them have a personal involvement in long-term care, whether via family or friends.

It is people like these who, when they pull together, make things happen in our society. (As a resident of a revitalized Cleveland, I can attest to that.) So, who better to devise and push for a long-term care system that makes sense and is truly responsible? Who better to push on and crack the ideological logjam that is Washington today?

LTC leaders should reach out to these people, as has Mr. Day. Even as my long-suffering, job-hunting friend ultimately agreed, networking works, if you work it. NH
To comment on the editorial, please send e-mail to peck1103@nursinghomesmagazine.com.