More than 120 ALFA members and senior living advocates from across the nation --from New York to California --left an impressive footprint on Capitol Hill last week with the largest single advocacy event ever held by the Assisted Living Federation of America.
Participants raised awareness of assisted living as a great long term care option for seniors in more than 470 one-on-one meetings at 150 offices of Senators, House members and key committee staffers. The turnout was more than twice the size of last year’s fly-in.
``This federal fly-in marked a turning point for the senior living industry’s outreach to the U.S. Congress,’’ said Richard Grimes, ALFA’s President and CEO. ``This show of strength established a platform for the philosophy of care we provide to America’s seniors: a philosophy that embraces independence, respect, dignity, choice and quality care.’’
In its sweep of Capitol Hill, ALFA members explained the differences between the philosophy of assisted living and other long term care options. A number of ALFA Board members noted that a significant number of key lawmakers and staff still did not fully appreciate the differences between assisted living and skilled nursing care.
ALFA members advocated for consumer-friendly and potentially life-saving measures such as the National Silver Alert Act which would create a national system for locating missing seniors who wander because of complications from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The measure is similar to the Amber Alert system for locating missing children.
They also engaged in frank discussions on the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)which would eliminate the secret ballot for employees in deciding whether or not to join a labor union and the so-called Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act that would bar America’s seniors from engaging in voluntary pre-dispute arbitration agreements with senior living providers.
Attendees at the fly-in included executives from Emeritus Senior Living, Brookdale Senior Living, Sunrise Senior Living, Assisted Living Concepts, Five Star Senior Living, BMA Management, New Perspective Senior Living, Bell Senior Living, Benchmark Assisted Living, Brightview Senior Living, Chancellor Health Care, Country Meadows Retirement Communities, Direct Supply, Inc., Somerford Corp., Integral Senior Living, Senior Care, Inc., Silverado Senior Living, Signature Senior Living and Horizon Bay Retirement Living.
``Education is the key,’’ said Loren Shook, the founder and CEO of Silverado Senior Living. ``If our legislators understand what we do, they will support us because it is the quality of life they wish for themselves and their loved ones.
ALFA also encourages executives to invite lawmakers from every level of government to visit communities so they can fully appreciate the impact of abstract policies discussed in hearing rooms on the seniors they represent. By exposing lawmakers and policy makers to a variety of communities, they can see firsthand the wide variety of options available to seniors and the great work performed by the senior living industry. `