Inviting legislators and other VIPs into your center is an excellent opportunity to help current and future decision makers see the quality services you provide and gain a better understanding of our long term care issues. Many lawmakers have never been inside a long term care center, or it has been many years since their last visit. They may not understand the complexities of care you provide, the valuable activity programs you offer to enhance resident quality of life, or the dedication of your staff to help ensure quality care is provided each and every day.
FHCA wants to help you make the most out of these visits with a few simple tips, as well as unique ideas that your fellow members have found successful. For a quick reference to download and share with your staff, click here.
Watch our video for an example of hosting a legislator in your center. Hear from Rep. Matt Gaetz and Sen. Don Gaetz who toured Washington Rehabilitation Center in Chipley and took time to honor Lucy Kennedy, the Signature HealthCARE resident who inspired the legislation to triple the nursing center resident personal needs allowance in the 2014 Florida budget.
Alert your staff ahead of time that a special visitor will be in the building. They may have ideas and suggestions for activities you can host while he/she is there.
When the legislator arrives, take him/her on a tour of your center just as you would a potential new resident and family members. Consider inviting along your DON, Activities Director, Marketing Director or other staff to help you with the tour and to answer questions.
As you are walking through your center, remember to greet your staff and residents by name.
Bring together your residents so they have an opportunity to get involved and meet the legislator. Consider hosting a breakfast, lunch or other special activity to make the meeting interactive. This helps personalize the experience for everyone and makes it much more memorable.
Get creative. Decorate your dining area in red, white and blue or a holiday theme. Display resident artwork and family thank you notes.
Don’t use acronyms or medical terminology and assume your visitor knows what you’re talking about. While you are in the trenches day after day, these individuals are not so it’s important to help them understand what you do without overwhelming them with LTC jargon.
Nervous? FHCA staff members are available to accompany you on these visits if this is your first time. Contact Melody Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss availability or get a pep talk prior to the visit!
Remember to take photographs and send them to FHCA for inclusion in the Pulse newsletter or other FHCA communication tools. Invite the legislator to be photographed with your residents to again add that personalized touch (be sure you have the resident’s permission to be photographed). Pictures can be sent to Kristen Knapp, FHCA Director of Communications, at email@example.com.
If your visit doesn’t include a political contribution, consider contacting your local media and inviting them to join you for the legislative visit. If they don’t have a reporter/photographer available to send, follow up with them by sending photographs from the visit. If you need help with media relations, contact Kristen Knapp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send a thank you note to the legislator after the event and any photographs you may have taken. This is an important gesture that will help him/her remember the visit.
What to Discuss
Ask the legislator about his/her experience with nursing centers – he or she may have a relative who is or has been in a center and this may be a good lead in to discuss our LTC issues.
Emphasize the quality of care you provide, highlight any special awards you have received, discuss any future goals you have for your center – adding culture change enhancements, working towards a Gold Seal Award.
FHCA has developed talking points about important LTC issues, many of which will be an integral part of our Legislative Agenda. Click here to read and download our latest issue briefs and other helpful resources.
What to Showcase
Be sure to show off your dining room, talk about any specialized meal functions, opportunities for families to come in and dine with residents.
Showcase your activities board and activities center. Talk about community involvement – any outside groups that visit the center and provide religious services or music concerts, for example. Talk about opportunities you offer to take residents on visits outside the center, such as to parks, community outings, etc.
Highlight your therapy or other skilled services your center offers.
Be sure to introduce the legislator to staff, pointing out your Director of Nursing, Activities Director, Maintenance Director, etc. Ask open-ended questions to your staff to get them engaged: “How long have you worked here, Tell us about the new garden you’ve created, etc.”
Thank you in advance for getting involved in FHCA's grassroots advocacy. No one can replace your voice and the effectiveness you have in addressing the local issues and concerns of the long term care profession. You are the informed, on-the-ground expert that legislators are inclined to listen to – you put a local face on state issues. Your active involvement in helping us educate legislators and legislative candidates is key and will go a long way as we work to advance legislative agenda. If you have questions about or need assistance with an upcoming center tour, feel free to contact a member of FHCA's Government Affairs team.
Florida Health Care Association
307 W. Park Ave.
P. O. Box 1459
Tallahassee, Florida 32301
(850) 224-3907 email@example.com