Thursday, April 12, 2012

Celebrating the Journey, 45 Years in the Making

One of our favorite times of the year happens every May beginning on Mother’s Day. This year’s National Nursing Home Week (NNHW), a nationwide celebration of the people who live, work and volunteer in America’s 15,000 nursing homes, is all about the journey. Since the first NNHW in 1967, nursing home staffs have rolled up their sleeves to make the week a special time for residents, patients, families and friends. Activity directors have come up with events to bolster excitement, local media have spotlighted unique residents, and lawmakers have recognized the week in proclamation letters, opening ceremonies, and salutes.

After 45 years, we still call it National Nursing Home Week, even though many nursing homes are now referred to as skilled nursing or post acute care centers. Nowadays, there are as many variations on the name as there are states. So why hasn’t the name changed to National Skilled Nursing and Post Acute Care Center Week?

Ask anyone what a skilled nursing care center is, and you’re likely to get a blank stare. Ask that same person what a nursing home is, and they’re likely to tell you a story about a friend or loved one in a nursing home. While those in the profession know that nursing homes have evolved to be more like short-term places of rehabilitation than long lasting homes, the general public is often unaware of this change.

Changing a decades-old perception takes time, research and work. That’s why AHCA/NCAL launched its Public Education and Communications Campaign (PECC) to change deeply rooted perceptions and bring the public up-to-speed with current day practices. Part of that effort is creating an environment where it’s easy to talk about loved ones and the care they’ll need as they age.  Check out Care Conversations to join the discussion yourself.

Nursing homes have come a long way over the years, and NNHW is a perfect time to challenge those old perceptions where they matter – in your local community. Check out nnhw.org for a number of resources to make the most out of the week, and see what others are doing on the NNHW Facebook page.

What do you think about the term nursing home? Would you change it if you could?

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