Spirit of the season

There was little rest for weary LTC professionals this year. Just when providers thought they could breathe a sigh of relief for having survived 2010's transition to MDS 3.0, 2011 presented waves of regulatory, economic and societal challenges that tested their mettle.

Here are just a few newsworthy topics that competed for your attention: accountable care organizations, SNF payment reductions, the swelling of senior ranks with the first wave of baby boomers, the demise of CLASS, government budget cuts and the deficit-grappling super committee, RUG-IV adjustments, legal challenges to healthcare reform and continued sluggish recovery in the senior housing market.

I know-you could use a break from hard news. But instead of capping off the year with an upbeat cover image of seniors gathered around a cozy fireplace or caroling CNAs, the editors of Long-Term Living hit you hard with a disturbing image of the devastation of a nursing home by a killer tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., last spring.

I hope you won't turn away from this story. It is so much more than a sad account of loss and disaster. It's also a story of selflessness, courage, heroism and hope. Editor Kevin Kolus spent weeks researching, interviewing sources and carefully constructing the story-interweaving the personal, harrowing experience of one rescuer with a report on the protocols and recovery efforts by the facility's owners and managers. There are lessons to be learned, for sure, but more importantly this story recognizes caregivers who epitomize the highest ideals of your field.

Ultimately, what strikes me most about this story is that people cared, people responded and a group of frail and vulnerable elders were not abandoned in their time of greatest need. This, I think, best represents the spirit of long-term care, and the true spirit of this season.

Long-Term Living 2011 December;60(12):06

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