As the baby boomer generation ages, Michigan’s senior population will continue to grow for years to come. The necessity for quality long-term care will be in greater demand more than ever before.

We must ensure that our seniors are able to age comfortably, with dignity and respect, and with the ability to continue to carry out fulfilling lives while receiving the care they deserve. Skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities are meeting these needs for Michigan’s seniors in communities throughout the state.

We should be proud of the quality care we deliver to our residents in Michigan.

As a state, we outrank the national average in several important indicators of quality as measured by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Michigan nursing facilities outpace the national average in the successful rehabilitation of residents, which in many cases entails helping them recover from surgery or another traumatic event in order to return home.

Our state’s facilities have also reduced anti-psychotic drug use and our re-hospitalization rates are below the national average. Additionally, Michigan leads the nation in new builds and renovations — ensuring residents have a comfortable place they are proud to call home.

All of this is possible because of the dedication of the front-line health care workers in our facilities. Direct-care staffing and RN staffing levels in Michigan facilities exceed the national average, and these employees are selflessly delivering on the promises we have made to our older population. These caregivers are some of the most dedicated and compassionate people you will ever have the opportunity to meet. They give so much of themselves in the process of taking care of the residents entrusted with their care.

We as a society owe a debt of gratitude to those who work on the care-giving front lines to give our senior population the lives they deserve. They speak of their residents as other people talk about their parents and grandparents — with love, devotion and respect. In many cases the staff are the only family a resident has — and they accept that role gracefully.

It is imperative that we support these caregivers, and implement policies that ensure a strong workforce to care for those who need it.

For the staff of Michigan’s nursing facilities, the demands are high, and the work is oftentimes thankless. Our state is currently facing a workforce shortage — there are not enough healthcare workers to meet the growing demand. We cannot take these employees for granted. It is they who enable quality care for our residents. A commitment to quality is a commitment to the staff of our nursing facilities.

There are thousands of positive actions and outcomes occurring daily in today’s nursing and rehabilitation facility. I invite you to visit your local facility and see for yourself the amazing care provided to seniors by so many selfless Michiganders.

About the author: Melissa Samuel is president and CEO of the Health Care Association of Michigan.