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Nursing Homes: Finding a Really Great One

Nursing Homes: What critical information should I know?

Nursing Home Staff That You Should Know

Evaluating the Nursing Home Facility

Understanding the Nursing Home Contract

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Nursing Homes: What critical information should I know?

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Nursing Homes: How do you evaluate and monitor care?

When you place your loved one in a nursing home, you then exchange your caregiving role for a guardian angel role.  However, the following guidelines should help you to evaluate and monitor the care of your loved one in a nursing home: 

Visit frequently. Obviously, there's no better way to monitor the care of your loved one then to visit them at the nursing home on a consistent, frequent basis.  Your consistent presence communicates that "I care about my loved one and won't be shy about advocating for them".  If you can’t visit you should at least call the nurses station and make sure that your parent or loved one is doing "OK".  Also, if your parent or loved one is having a tough day, has a cold, or any change in condition, you should probably call between visits. 

Nurture relations with nursing home staff members. Form relationships with the people who are actually caring for your parent and thank them for their work.  Get to know them.  Remember them at Christmas and other special days.  Small gifts such as a small plant or box of candy may be appreciated, although you need to check with the administration before giving gifts. 

Develop relationships with other resident family members. Family members of other residents can be additional eyes and ears informing one another if something doesn't seem to be right. 

Take your family member’s complaints seriously but validate them when you have the opportunity. For example, if your mother complains that nursing home staff take too long to respond to her call light, time it yourself.  Also, if you see a call light on in another room you may time that response as well. And then ask your mother if this problem occurs all of the time or just at certain times such as certain shifts, or when certain nursing assistants are on duty.  If she complains about the quality of the food, you may randomly check the appearance, taste and temperature of several meals at different times over a period of several weeks. 

Understand that complaints may be your loved one’s attempt to regain some sense of control in the face of their losses. You should look for ways to restore some sense of control.  Some nursing homes allow the residents to do volunteer work such as delivering mail to the other residents, visiting more impaired residents, or distributing materials during activities.  Some residents may enjoy making crafts or crocheting for other residence.  Having a plant or bird to care for, and being able to make choices about their own activities may help significantly. 

Discuss any concerns with the appropriate nursing home staff members (nursing aide, director of nursing, physical therapist) and with the administrator. A calm, collaborative approach of "we’re in this together" gets much more action than an angry or condescending approach.  The old saying that “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar”, is probably true after all. 

Some information from eldercare for dummies by Rachelle Zukerman Ph.D 

Additional Information By Paul Susic M.A. Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate (Geriatric Psychologist) 

 

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