PHILADELPHIA — Expect immigration reform — a potential workforce solution — and the skilled nursing survey process to be two of the issues on LeadingAge’s advocacy agenda for 2019, LeadingAge Board Chairman Stephen Fleming told those attending the general session on Tuesday.

So far, LeadingAge has had town hall meetings with 34 state affiliates and plans to meet with the others before the end of the year as it talks to members and solidifies where to turn its efforts in the coming year, said Fleming, president and CEO of the WellSpring Group in Greensboro, NC.

He offered advocacy advice to attendees.

“It does not matter whether you affiliate with the D’s or the R’s or neither,” Fleming said. “What we have to do as aging services professionals is to become active in our local political arena. Your party’s candidate or incumbent needs to know you, know who you are, where you work and, most importantly, know who you represent.”

This year was “perhaps the best advocacy year in a decade for LeadingAge,” with success in advocating for affordable housing funding and Medicare therapy caps, Fleming said.

Fighting ageism

For those who would say that LeadingAge’s vision of an America freed from aging doesn’t have anything to do with their day-to-day responsibilities, Fleming said: “It has everything to do with it. …Every older American deserves this country’s respect, attention and, most importantly, our renewed promise to provide for the vulnerable, defend the defenseless and free America from aging that portrays it as a joke, as a disease or a sentence that includes with it antiquated public policy highlighted by fragmentation and inadequate reimbursements.”

Also at the meeting Tuesday:

  • LeadingAge bestowed several awards. The Excellence in the Workplace Award was given to Three Pillars Senior Living Communities based in Dousman, WI; the Dr. Herbert Stone Outstanding Mentor Award was presented to Julie Thorson, president and CEO of Friendship Haven, Fort Dodge, IA, and McKnight’s Long-Term News columnist; the Hobart Jackson Cultural Diversity Award went to Camphill Ghent, Chatham, NY; and the Robert Wood Johnson Award for Health Equity went to Terri Allton Spritznagel, senior vice president of home and community services for National Church Residences, Ohio.
  • Board members were recognized. Joining the board are Deborah Royster, Seabury Resources for the Aging, Washington, DC; and Laurence Gumina, Ohio Living, Columbus. Terri Cunliffe, Covenant Retirement Communities, Skokie, IL, and Karyne Jones of the National Caucus and Center on Black Aging, Washington, DC, are new continuing members. Rotating off the board are Steve Horowitz of Saint Elizabeth Community, Warwick, IL, and Danny Sanford of Still Hopes Episcopal Retirement Community in West Columbia, British Columbia.

The meeting ends Wednesday. Next year’s meeting will be Oct. 27 to 30 in San Diego.

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