By Cathy Ferency/Guest Columnist
March 28, 2019
A few years ago, I, along with my mother, made the difficult decision to secure a place for her in a nearby nursing home. It’s never an easy decision, especially in my mom’s case, because she was so independent and able to take care of herself. Until she couldn’t. She needed more care than I could provide given that I work full time.
After moving into the nursing home, neither she, nor I have ever looked back.
The care she has received at Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Natick has met and even exceeded our expectations. Both she and I are part of a caring community thanks to the dedicated staff who are good at what they do, warm, and wonderful. We laugh together and I see firsthand how much they love my mother and she, them. We all are very attached and they have become much more than simply caregivers to us.
I know that in the morning an aide is there to help my mother shower, get dressed, and make sure she has her pre-breakfast muffin and coffee because she’s hungry when she wakes up. I don’t have to worry about a thing. I have one hundred percent peace of mind because I know that I could never give mom the level of care that she gets at the nursing home, and I know that when I’m in bed and I go to sleep at night, if anything should happen, there’s plenty of well-trained people who will make far better decisions about where she should go, what should happen at any given moment than I could.
I see firsthand how demanding it is to work in a nursing home. The direct care staff workload is tremendous and they are in constant demand. I see how exhausted they are, but their mission to protect and provide for their residents is inspiring and should be celebrated.
Instead, I know that some work more than one job to make ends meet. Sadly, some have left to take jobs that pay more for less demanding work.
Every time an aide resigns it’s taking away a friend - a confidante - who residents, like my mother, come to rely on.
It’s a special kind of person who can care for the elderly and they are certainly not in it for the glamor. For many it’s a calling and that’s why they stay. Just the other day, my mother turned to her aide, Francis, and said, “you’re my friend.” It made my heart swell and I feel they should be compensated accordingly and shown far greater appreciation.
However, I recently learned that underfunding from the state is the main reason many leave, because their pay is tied to MassHealth reimbursements and the majority of people in nursing homes rely on Medicaid to pay for their care.
While I can appreciate that the state has many funding obligations, we cannot balance a budget at the expense of the elderly. These are people who have spent their lives working and being productive citizens for the state and the state, I believe, must provide for them in their time of need. Making sure their care is paid for adequately should be a priority.
The need for nursing home care is never going to go away, and neither is the need to fund wages for those who we rely on to care for our loved ones.
I sincerely hope lawmakers and the governor can find the money needed in the budget to ensure all elderly citizens get the kind of care my mother gets. They and those who care for them have earned this blessing.
Cathy Ferency lives in Natick.