In the latest episode of the LTC Heroes podcast, we speak with LaShuan Bethea, Executive Director at AHCA/NCAL.

T​he National Center for Assisted Living (N​CAL) is the assisted living voice of the American Health Care Association​ (AHCA). NCAL serves the assisted living community via n​a​tional advocacy, education, networking, professional development, and quality initiatives.

The episode begins with LaShuan sharing how she first got into long-term care. She also discusses when a specific resident or moment stuck with her in her career.

Since LaShuan entered the long-term care industry young, she shares the advice she’d give to younger people about why the sector is so special.

We also learn the challenges LaShuan had in becoming Executive Director at AHCA/NCAL. She also talks about the initiatives she’s helped implement in the last six months, including promoting the Covid-19 vaccine and ensuring communities have access to it.

LaShuan also talks about one of her proudest achievements: graduating from law school as a young mum.

Toward the end of the episode, LaShuan discusses what she’s excited to see in long-term care and her optimism for the future.

Rapidfire Q/A

How did you get into long-term care?

I went and worked in a local nursing home within my community and I fell in love with it. I saw my ability to use the skills that I learned while in school to impact the individuals I was caring for.

I built relationships with residents and their families. I found it very rewarding, knowing that the outcomes of the people in the nursing home were dependent on my skill and my ability to communicate effectively with them.

I went on to become a registered nurse. And I did try a variety of different areas, from emergency room nursing to behavioral health and nursing. But I always continued to keep one foot in long-term care, finding that that’s really where my heart was.

I continued to work in long-term care, but I eventually went back to school to become an attorney.

Is there a specific resident or moment that always sticks with you?

I remember one of the first times I had a resident that wasn’t doing so well. I remembered my teacher saying it’s your skill, it’s your ability to assess. I went in and I assessed the resident. I found some abnormal things and I effectively communicated them with the doctor.

I was able to get that resident treated appropriately. That day, I gained the respect of the resident and their family and the individuals that worked around me.

I recognized that I had to be able to work with this team and show that I could be a leader.

What’s an initiative that you’ve done in the last six months?

I would say promoting vaccination, ensuring that assisted living communities have access to vaccines, and ensuring there’s education around vaccine awareness. We know that having access to vaccines is one of the most significant things that impacted our industry in terms of the tragic loss that occurred early in the pandemic.

We want to make sure that assisted living is also on our government’s radar when they are distributing critical supplies like testing or planning how vaccines will get to residents or employees in assisted living communities.

What have you done lately that you might not tell everyone but you’re proud of?

I would say that my probably proudest moment was graduating from law school. I was a young mom. I had my first child at 16.

I participated in my graduation with my children there. I was very proud of that moment.

Graduating law school was when it all just came together for me. The little things that I did along the way, the times that I fell and I got back up, it all led me to that moment.

What was it about having an attorney mindset that allowed you to do a better job as an executive director?

As an attorney going through law school, you learn about the three branches of government. You learn how you engage with the government, talk to your legislators, share the impact of policy, how you engage with the regulatory agencies, and which agencies are responsible for what parts.

As an individual that has worked boots on the ground, in a facility, with residents, talked with family members, and has the experience of knowing the impact of long-term care, I think that my experiences are important to share with the right stakeholders. But if you don’t see that process, you’ll be in your community in your facility, trying to make policies work.

Discover the lengthy journey of LaShuan Bethea, Executive Director at AHCA/NCAL, in the long-term care industry by tuning in to the latest episode of the LTC Heroes podcast.

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