A Message From Focused Care's Founder

Mark McKenzie, CEO

May Founder’s Message: The Built-in Irony of What We Do and a Societal Reluctance to Value Long Term Care

May Founder’s Message

The Built-in Irony of What We Do and a Societal Reluctance to Value Long Term Care

National Skilled Nursing Care Week launched on May 14th – its theme: Cultivating Kindness. Kindness and compassion are intrinsically a part of who we are or we wouldn’t be working in this health care setting.  We simply cannot provide high quality skilled nursing care to an older, more vulnerable population without being kind and compassionate – it’s in our DNA.

We hear from state and federal policymakers, the media, and various agencies that long term care has to improve, that we need more nurses and care providers to care for a growing number of seniors entering the phase of their lives when long term care can be a necessity. We all know people are aging longer, which also means they are more likely to have acute conditions at some point and we also know nursing staff is burned out, emotionally and physically spent and leaving the profession. Nurses, especially those in hospitals, have complained of workplace violence, a lack of respect from families of patients they care for and that paychecks don’t come close to matching the human output the job requires. How do we encourage people to pursue a career in nursing when the picture looks so bleak and in skilled nursing care – the outside perception of what we do and how we do it seems so misunderstood?

We are our own best ambassadors but that doesn’t mean we stand by and let others define us. Back in the day, we used to set up tours with media and legislators. We would showcase our services, introduce our team members and with the approval of residents and families, have them meet a few of the people we care for. While it didn’t provide a direct “walk in my shoes” experience for those guests – it did give them the opportunity to see what we do in real time. I think we need to start that again – get people through our doors and see who we are.

When the pandemic broke out there was story after story about outbreaks in nursing homes and how we weren’t doing enough to protect our residents. For nearly six months, we worked with a Houston Chronicle reporter to write a story about us – about how we were doing during the pandemic – about WHAT we were doing to save lives and not lose our own. In November of 2020, the story ran – front page on a Sunday featuring Focused Care at Westwood. I’ve always wondered what people thought who read that story and if they finally understood what our team members endured. Kindness and compassion ruled our team members at every turn – they still do – we can’t live our mission if they don’t.

Before covid and certainly now, we face a perfect storm of factors – a gap in funding as a result of the expiration of the Public Health Emergency (PHE), a Medicaid rate that must be increased to pay for the actual cost of care and of course, the nursing workforce shortage that remains at crisis levels. Yet, you come into work every day, you greet your residents, you communicate with their family members, you support a team member in need – all after having left your own family for the day or evening.  That takes immeasurable kindness and compassion.

During this commemorative week – and always – be the ambassador for long term care. Let people know what you do and how if you don’t hold that hand today, bathe that person, ask about their life and get them to smile at least once – who will?

Sometimes it may feel as though there are tons of expectations and not enough appreciation for us by those who only look in from the outside.  I say, it’s time to change that and we are the ones to do it. Let’s work together to let everyone know we are a profession that cares for the most vulnerable, we are proud and committed to doing that and we do it with kindness and compassion.

Thank you for choosing this very difficult but noble and rewarding journey.


Mark McKenzie

Founder & CEO