Written by Elizabeth Ecker for ALFA Update
As the aging population expands to rely more heavily each year on assisted living, advocacy for the industry has become increasingly important. Today’s providers are seeking informed and educated lawmaking that will best benefit the senior population they serve.
Learn. Share. Advocate.
While ALFA works with representatives in Washington, D.C. on an ongoing basis to address assisted living regulations, ALFA also hosts an annual “fly-in” for its members. This allows members to gain face time with representatives and educate them on the most current issues facing senior living businesses. This year’s event is coming up on September 17-18, 2013, with registration now open.
“The ALFA staff advocates on behalf of our members on [Capitol] Hill all year long, but this one day we bring people from all over the country so they can meet with their elected officials,” says Maribeth Bersani, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for ALFA. “They can tell their stories better than we can.”
The ALFA Advocacy Fly-In, which has taken place every year for the last 10—and counting—gathers dozens of senior living executives, owners, operators and employees to Washington D.C for a two-day training boot camp and meeting with elected officials.
The meetings with elected state officials as well as their staff members presents a unique opportunity for providers to stress the most important assisted living regulations and federal regulations impacting business this year.
It’s also a chance to increase visibility, presence and influence with legislators among the senior living industry as a whole.
But the participation doesn’t end with the meetings. Many providers have found as a result of past fly-ins, their elected officials have come to communities for on-site visits and to see firsthand the work they’re doing and the assistance lawmakers can provide.
“It helps to educate the representatives and staff members but also when you’re able to have a representative and then their staff visit a community, it’s very rewarding for everyone involved,” Pochowski says. “For residents and families, that’s one of the positive aspects of these advocacy efforts.”
The follow-up starts with a simple email or note, but can set the stage for a future of legislative efforts, Bersani says.
“We really want to start a relationship,” she says. “While this is one day, we tell providers they need to be advocates all year-round. Some have met with the same [representatives] year after year. It really works. This should lay the groundwork for advocacy 365 days a year.”
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