Florida is the oldest state in the U.S., with over 4.4 million seniors and over half a million of them with Alzheimer’s or related dementias. Florida’s population will grow by 5.1 million by 2030 and 64 percent will be seniors. The needs for long term care will only increase. Nearly two-thirds of Americans over age 65 will require long term care at some point in time. This includes nursing home care, assisted living facility and home and community-based services.
Many believe that long term care services are for elders over 65. Actually, 40 percent of people currently receiving long term care services are adults younger than 65. This includes persons of all ages requiring 24-hour skilled nursing home care as indicated in the Associated Press story which ran on January 7, 2011 about the young man who residing at the Sarasota facility with other seniors.
The Culture Change movement being promoted within long term care is gaining momentum in changing traditional operations that focus on ensuring the safety of residents with rigid timelines, such as meal times at specified hours and only menus that are nutritionally sound and medically compliant, as well as overall regulatory compliance. The focus is changing to give nursing home residents greater control over their daily lives – such as when they want to be in their room, bathe, be woken up or other personalized activities. They have more choices in meal selections and other activities of daily living. Additionally, the front line workers who provide the bulk of the care are being given greater autonomy in caring for their assigned residents to encourage staffing consistencies and strong friendships with residents.
Many nursing homes having aging physical structures which have been renovated a number of times. Medicaid as the primary funding source of long term care is already being targeted for reductions across the states. Resources are not available to replace the majority of the traditional facilities. However, the Culture Change focus is on change from within. The purpose is to improve the quality of life of residents with more choices and more involvement in the day-to-day planning of their activities and their lives. It is called “person-centered care” and is for all ages.
As the state’s first and largest advocacy organization representing over 550 of Florida’s long term care facilities, Florida Health Care Association would like to reach out to our communities to become friends and supporters of our state’s nearly 71,000 nursing home residents, especially the younger persons being cared for 24 hours a day. The availability of volunteers to take residents on outings would enhance the day of many. Let’s work together in our move toward Culture Change, make a positive difference and enrich the lives of nursing home residents. Visit the consumer section of the FHCA website to find a nursing home in your area and become a volunteer.
J. Emmett Reed, CAE
FHCA Executive Director