What is your story? 

My name is Robin and I have had Cerebral Palsy my whole life. My mother and sister acted as my caregivers until they both passed away several years ago. For the last few years, I have been a resident in a nursing home facility in Baltimore City, Maryland. I volunteer with the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care where I serve as an advocate to improve the lives of people in similar situations to mine.

Why do you choose to advocate for older adults?

I chose to become an advocate for others after serving as an advocate for myself for the last five years. I have seen things in my nursing home facility that I wanted changed or thought could be improved and have chosen to speak up. This made me interested in being a voice for others and I appreciate working with Consumer Voice to improve the lives of others who need long-term care.

What are your experiences with the eldercare workforce?

The biggest concern I have about the workforce is the quantity and quality of staff.  Staffing is so important. At my facility, there are so many people to care for and it’s important that there are enough staff members to provide quality care. It can be hard to be attentive to individual needs when staff members are caring for too many people. Having more staff available to care for residents is critical to ensure that everyone receives high-quality care to meet individual needs and goals.

What is the most important thing you want members of your care team to understand about providing high-quality care? 

I wish all members of my care team would treat me as an individual. I wish that they understood that my needs change day-to-day and not everything is a set routine. I don’t need the same care or attention every day and my interactions with my care team should change based on my needs. I also don’t have the same goals or priorities as my neighbors so it is important for health care providers to understand the unique perspectives of those they treat.

Why is the training of the health care workforce to care for older adults so important?

It is so important to have a well-trained health care workforce because many people in residential facilities don’t have anybody else to care for them. Some of my fellow residents have friends and family who come visit, but many others only have the people they see every day in their care facility. Therefore, the health care workers are critical in ensuring consumers have a high quality of life. Whether it be providing social interaction, ensuring residents make their favorite art class, or helping individuals get out and interact with the world, the health care workforce plays an important role in bringing joy to residents in long-term care facilities.