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Reply by author Kick to Johnson on Overview: Health Care and the Aging Population: What are Today's Challenges?

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August 26, 2011

Reply by Dr. Ella Kick to Karen A. Johnson on Overview: Health Care and the Aging Population: What are Today's Challenges?, Ella Kick, DNSc, RN (May 31, 2003)

Dear Karen,

I am pleased to know that you care about patients in nursing homes and the way in which care is provided in these homes. I started studying long-term care even before Medicare became available. In fact I was once a Director of Nursing in a nursing home -- the job isn't easy.

However, I think there is strength in numbers. We can show this strength by having a number of nurses who are concerned about conditions in nursing homes write their legislators and ask for reform. When writing legislators it is important to be very specific in describing the problems you are seeing and to give examples without using specific names.

At one time, as I recall in the late 70s or early 80s, the American Nurses Association (ANA) had a Council of Nursing Home Nurses. I was the first chair of that Council. We prepared several publications and provided educational programs for nurses interested in gerontological nursing. We supported and attended the White House Conference on Aging, a conference that was held every ten years. Unfortunately the White House Conferences are no longer offered and the ANA Council of Nursing Home Nurses no longer exists.

I recently contacted the National Gerontological Nurses Association (NGNA) asking whether they have a subgroup for gerontological nurses. I was told they are currently planning to organize a special-interest group for nurses in long-term care. This group will focus on discussing issues related to long-term-care nursing and search for solutions. The group will meet at each NGNA convention and hold conference calls between conventions. NGNA can be contacted at 1-800-723-0560.

Furthermore, I think it would help if we could get someone willing to contact large foundations, such as W.K. Kellogg Foundation or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to ask if they would be interested in helping us improve care in nursing homes by providing scholarships to nurses who want to pursue a Master’s degree in Gerontological Nursing, with the proviso that these nurses would work for three years in a nursing home after receiving the degree.

I commend all the nurses who are working in nursing homes at this time; yet I truly believe we need more nurses with higher degrees to be in charge of nursing in these homes. Our knowledge of gerontology and gerontological nursing continues to expand. We need nurses who are on the cutting edge to be involved in nursing home care.

Ella Kick, DNSc, RN