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Couple calls for compassion in care

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – Nursing home workers from around Illinois gathered in Springfield this week for the Illinois Pioneer Coalition’s annual summit.

The coalition advocates for “person-centered care” in long-term care facilities. That means allowing residents to make decisions about their lives: when the wake up, when they go to bed, when they eat, how they bathe and others.

Among the speakers who addressed the group were Mary and Vivian Tellis-Nayak, researchers and authors who advocate for the role of compassion in care.

“Every one of us has the ability to be compassionate,” Mary told a crowd Tuesday morning. “It’s in our DNA.”

Speaking later, Vivian said that compassion within long-term care means acknowledging the needs of everyone in a nursing home, including residents and workers.

“Every individual is equal,” Vivian said. “Every individual has abilities and yearnings they aspire to.”

Recruiting and retaining workers who can show compassion requires leadership, said Mary, who worked in care for years.

“I’ve heard nurses say they will choose a job based on the number of residents they have to take care of, not by the pay,” Mary said.

“If you treat me like a person, that’s more important to me than if you pay me 10 cents more an hour,” Vivian said.

Still, the Tellis-Nayaks admit there are constraints to the abilities of nursing homes, particularly since most nursing home residents rely on Medicaid, which does not provide as much money for nursing homes as other sources.

Nevertheless, Mary said there are intangible benefits that come from working in nursing homes.

“Working in a nursing home can be a lot of fun,” Mary said. “Elders can be a lot of fun to be with, if they’re allowed to be themselves.”

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