The Real you?

Those of you who visit our Web site,—and I hope it’s a growing number of you—may have noticed our reader polls: simple questions seeking simple responses and encouraging fuller response, if so desired. I personally get a kick out of this reader feedback. Recently I was struck by one poll—in this case, appended to a brief story about Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s plans for healthcare reform. It asked whether you thought he would fulfill its stated goals. No fewer than 75% said “no.” Tough crowd, I thought, and probably right (not that Republican candidate Sen. John McCain will necessarily fare much better when his turn comes up).

More often these polls are freestanding polls, appearing to the right side of the home page. They have delved into more than a dozen issues by now. I’m not saying that they are anywhere near scientific, or even representative, necessarily. So, to see how close we come, I would ask you to rate your own opinions compared to the poll results we’ve received thus far. How closely do you match this profile?

For example, of all the presidential candidates running earlier this year, most respondents by a pretty wide margin thought Sen. Hillary Clinton would do the most for long-term care. Not only that, but you would have preferred Hillary as an owner, if you had the choice. President Bush ran second, interestingly enough (and the less said about Obama or McCain in these contexts, the better). Fully 88% of you would favor private rooms over shared rooms, were you to build or add on to a facility. The large majority of you would look to culture change, much more so than environmental upgrades of resident/family social events, to build resident census. But most of you find staffing to be a bigger management challenge than census: 40% vs. 30%. Well over three-quarters of you would funnel any reimbursement rate increase to higher salaries and better support for staff; only 3% said they would boost profits. About half report providing health insurance to 30% to over 65% of staff; the other half provides coverage for less than 30% of staff (if any).

How are we doing so far? Can we start feeling good about our online polls’ accuracy? While mulling over that, turn to page 30 in this issue to see another offshoot of our Web site’s new offerings—an extraordinary outpouring of readers’ views on the staffing problem, prompted by a debut blog from our magazine’s resident provocateur over the past several years, Paul Willging. We’re looking forward to more such articulately expressed views.

We find these instant communications with readers to be highly rewarding. They’re certainly more direct than the comments we received frequently from happy authors over the years noting that people were calling them “from out of the blue” about articles they had just published. We pride ourselves on our responsive readership, and hope that you will take these new opportunities to express yourself, both by using the link below and by accessing the whole new world (for us) of online publishing at


To send your comments to the editors, e-mail

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