When we published Saving Them to Death in the fall of 2020 and sent that to our Texas House Representatives and Senators, we hoped our stories would affect necessary change in Texas. And it did. What we did not know was that Senator Lois Kolkhorst would read excerpts from our loved ones' stories to the full senate and that our book, like our traveling signs, would inspire similar advocacy efforts in other states because these books tell our elected representatives what they don't know and what nobody else can tell them.
Texas Caregivers for Compromise has since helped develop a national book with stories from each of the 50 states which was mailed to all 535 U.S. House Representatives and U.S. Senators. Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, has been reading excerpts of that book, Protecting Them to Death, to the U.S. House of Representatives in much the same way our Texas book was read.
And, y'all need to sit down to read this next part. I'm serious. Sit down.
Texas Caregivers for Compromise also helped develop a Florida book. Mary Daniel gathered stories from Florida families, and we put those in a book inspired by the Texas book and in support of essential caregiver legislation in Florida. Then, (are you sitting down?) last week, Mary Shannon Daniel went office by office and hand delivered 160 copies of Florida's Saving Them to Death book in the Florida State Capitol with Representative Jason Shoaf who filed an essential caregiver bill which has since passed both the Florida Senate and House.
Now, I just want you to think about this for a moment. Think about what sharing your loved one's story has done for our state, for other states, and for people who live in long-term care across this country. Think about what you have inspired other advocates to do just by being courageous and tenacious. What we do as advocates matters. It matters to us. It matters to our loved ones. It matters to the people who care for our loved ones. It matters to all the legislators, provider groups, Texas HHSC departments, our long-term care ombudsmen, CMS, DSHS, and anyone else charged with a task or responsibility that affects long-term care residents or facilities. And, WHAT WE DO matters to the rest of the country. I'm not exaggerating. You did this.
The eyes of the United States are on Texas. We are leading the way in long-term care visitation reform. You lit the match and showed the country that visitation rights can be protected safely and responsibly. I want to encourage you to continue to be bold advocates, unafraid of sharing what you know, unafraid of advocating for your loved one, and dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals that need the 24/7 supervision or 24/7 skilled nursing, that better and higher level of care, to live their best life.
We are Texas Caregivers for Compromise and we are #notgoingaway.