Standing Proud​

Members | April 21, 2020 | by Carol Silver Elliott

LeadingAge board of directors chair, Carol Silver Elliott, shares her thoughts about positivity and telling the real stories about the pandemic.

There is nothing easy about being a senior services provider in the best of times. All of us have a long list of things that “keep us up at night.” And these are, without question, not the best of times.

We are all struggling to keep elders and staff safe, provide care, obtain supplies, keep everyone informed, and the list goes on and on.

Layered on top of that is the ongoing negative onslaught that we see in the media.  We read that nursing home residents are “sitting ducks” and that we, as providers, are not prepared, not capable, and more. You and I both know that is just not true.  There are some providers, in every field, who neither meet standards nor expectations. But I know that each of you, each of our members, and each of my colleagues, do your utmost to both meet and exceed expectations every day.

The media is not telling the stories of the staff who are making virtual visits between elders and their loved ones possible, sometimes knowing that they are helping a family to say “I love you” for the last time; staff who are not clinical but have been trained to help with dining and are feeding residents and encouraging people to eat; folks who are willingly taking on more shifts or other assignments because they know the need. The media is not telling the stories of those staff who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, have had it themselves, and who come back to work with an even stronger determination to bring their all to the care of the elders. They don’t want to hear about the employee who lost his mother to this virus, asked for a loan from his retirement to pay for her funeral, and was given those funds as a gift from the organization. Stories of families sending in lunch for the staff; people standing outside holding signs to thank these hard working heroes. You know them as well as I do.

We have a lot to be proud of. Each of us has brought all of our resources to bear to fight this virus; we have called in help from every quarter; used every contact and all of our ingenuity to try and address the challenges we all face. I know that you, like me, spend many sleepless hours cycling through a litany of worries that feel endless.  And I know that each of you, and your staff, bring your best selves to the elders we serve, putting your own anxieties aside. You do that every day, taking a deep breath, squaring your shoulders and doing what needs to be done.

I am so proud of the work that we are all doing, of the ways in which we are supporting one another, our elders, and our staff. Be well and stay strong.