What People Want
b y R I C H A R D L. P E C K, e d i t o r
What do you want?

So many millions, indeed billions, of dollars are spent every year by armies of pollsters and market researchers trying to get an answer to that simple question. Fortunately, in long-term care, answers are starting to emerge. A quick perusal of this issue of Nursing Homes/Long Term Care Management will confirm that.

Specifically, there is Bob Greenwood’s article on a set of PACE focus groups (p. 26) and Assistant Editor Doug Edwards’ News Note (p. 11) on a recent AARP study of public perceptions of long-term care financing. What do people want? Based on these pieces, there would appear to be two simple, one-word answers: control and facts.

The most striking (to me) finding emerging from the PACE focus groups is the desire of family caregivers to be in control of their loved one’s care. This appears to override all other considerations, even (Heavens to Betsy!) a facility’s survey results. People want to understand what’s being done, and why, and what choices (if any) they might have.

They also want to know where to turn. As one who not infrequently gets requests from people looking for a nursing home or assisted living facility, I know how difficult it is to recommend one with any degree of confidence. Reliable, credible, understandable information about long-term care providers is difficult to come by. People desperately want facts.

People also need more facts than perhaps they know they need-that’s the AARP study insight. Their lack of knowledge about long-term care financing is stunning, considering the “era of aging” that we’re moving into. I recently heard a National Public Radio commentary on the study suggesting, ironically, that the baby-boom generation-the most privileged, comfortable and, heck, spoiled generation in American history-could end up as the nation’s poorest, most deprived generation of elderly ever, when their long-term care needs kick in. This might eventually add a third word to their list of “wants”: access.

It’s clear that we already know what people want when it comes to long-term care. The question for our readers is: What are you going to do about it? NH

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