Now that I am in my sixth month of residence in a convalescent care facility I am prepared to offer up a very Republican solution to long-term medical care: Privatization.
The facility where I am currently residing charges a hefty $5500 a month to place me in a double-occupancy room with a shared toilet. The room offers no television and no phone service beyond that which the residents are able to provide. Compare this to the nearby Holiday Inn, which can somehow provide single-occupancy rooms with far more amenities for about a $1000 a month less. Things like internet access, a fridge and desk work area remains in a dream for me.
What the nursing home has in abundance is heat. I am talking about oppressive, thirst-inducing, sweat-generating heat. Somehow many residents still have to bundle up their elderly bodies against the cold.
In contrast, occupying a room at the Holiday Inn would allow me to pick a temperature more to my liking. It would allow me blessed privacy and I could enjoy meals served at somewhere above room temperature, all for less money than it is costing me now.
I suppose I could understand the premium pricing of the long-term care at the home if I could see where the money is spent. But there is little evidence of investment when meals are served tepid and overworked aids respond to calls for assistance at a pace most charitably described as stately.
I could even understand the high cost of a nursing home if special effort had been made to make the facility accessible to those with disabilities. Such is not the case. When my roommate and I are preparing to get ready for the day, it requires an intricately choreographed wheelchair ballet to avoid collisions. This is because most of the rooms lack sufficient space to meet the American’s with Disabilities Act’s guidelines of 10 feet for two wheelchair users. At present in my room there is no way a 10 foot circle could be delineated without striking a wall, a piece of furniture, a door, a wheelchair or a patient.
Nor is the lack of space in rooms the only apparent violation of ADA policy. The doors to several restrooms are considerably narrower than standard. It is possible to squeeze a wheelchair through the doorway but navigating to a urinal is well-nigh impossible. Rookie physical therapists have expressed astonishment that some of the doors in the facility are not automated. Once I finished laughing, I rubbed my thumb across the tips of my fingers in that gesture that has become a universal symbol for money.
My modest solution for cutting the cost of housing long-term residents in a convalescent facility obviously isn’t for everyone. Many who live here spend too much time in their own world to successfully live without supervision. But for those of us whose needs aren’t so great this could save money and help protect their mental health.