Aloha, National Nursing Home Week

Joe DeMattos DC Capitol Dome

Joe DeMattos

As AHCA/NCAL’s National Nursing Home Week draws to a close, Hawaii-native Joe DeMattos brings us all a little closer to Hawaii with some insights about the word “aloha” and its true meaning.

Good Morning, ProviderNation.

Aloha is among the best-known words in the world. Most people know it as the traditional way to say “hello” and “good-bye” in Hawai’i.

But aloha means so much more. When you say “aloha” to someone, you are saying that love flows between you.

“Aloha au iā ‘oe” means “I love you” in ‘Olelo Hawai’i, the language of Hawai’i.

This year, the theme of National Nursing Home Week is “Living the Spirit of Aloha.” When one lives with the aloha spirit, one lives with, and is, an agent of it. In this sense, aloha is a noun, and it is a powerful verb of action.

To hold the idea, the noun of aloha and all that it means in the thousands of years of proto-Polynesian and Hawai’i history is to believe and value right thought, right action, respect for others, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, empathy, and love. Aloha is the description of the ultimate world-view of abundance.

Putting aloha into action as a verb means acting on its values in how you treat yourself and in how you view and treat others.

“Living the Spirit of Aloha” in health care assumes the best of yourself and of those with whom you interact—family, patients, residents, colleagues, and even opponenNNHW 2014 Logots.

Interestingly, the “hand shake” of Hawai’i is to look into the eyes of the person you are greeting, to embrace, touch foreheads and noses, and to exchange the breath of life, the spirit of aloha.

Here in Maryland, 233 skilled nursing and rehab centers provide over 9 million days of care each year to Marylanders in need.

Many in care are “kupuna,” our treasured elders; some, increasingly more, are younger.

As we celebrate and create new living examples of the meaning of aloha, we have an opportunity to double our efforts to “Live the Spirit of Aloha” with all in care, young and elder.

Here are seven simple steps to “Live the Spirit of Aloha” every day:

  • Love yourself in a positive way.
  • See the best in yourself and others.
  • Self-right any of your wrongs.
  • Seek and offer forgiveness openly and often.
  • View and act as your best possible self and view others the same.
  • Work as a team—the flowing love always implies relationship—with others and your highest self.
  • Make it your mission to help all with whom you interact to be their best self.

Aloha au iā ‘oe.

Born and raised in Hawaii, Joe DeMattos is chief executive officer of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland, which represents most of the state’s 233 skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers. He can be reached at:

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