There might be a point in time when a loved one is no longer able to care for themselves and needs to move into a nursing home, but that decision can often raise just as many questions as it does provide answers to an emotional dilemma.
It is only natural to worry about how your loved one will cope with their new surroundings and just as importantly, you will have concerns about how well treated they will be by nursing staff and other residents.
Here is an overview of how to ensure that your loved one gets the respect and treatment they deserve, including some tips on liaising with the nursing home when creating a plan of care and how to ask the right questions to ensure your relative is getting the compassionate care you want them to have.
A written plan
Sadly, nursing home complaints show no sign of reducing in number and this can be very distressing for relatives who are understandably concerned about the welfare and treatment of someone they love.
There is a formal procedure that starts when your loved one is admitted to a nursing home and this provides the basis of what you expect the care providers to do in order to meet the individual needs of your relative.
It is important to understand that a nursing home is required to make a considered assessment of your loved one’s overall needs and then create a written plan of care that they will need to provide to you within 21 days of their admission.
This is your opportunity to discuss the contents and provide your own input so that a suitable plan can be created that focuses primarily on giving them as much independence and quality of life as possible.
The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 does provide you and your loved one with more than the right to participate in the plan of care process and it is also designed to provide a layer of protection from any potential wrongdoing on the part of the care home, such as administering drugs as a method of restraint.
These are emotive issues and there are some topics that you would rather not contemplate but if you want to get the best care possible for your loved one it is vital that you take an active part in creating a plan of care that works towards achieving that aim.
Asking all the right questions
It is often a testing period when a loved one first takes up residence in a nursing home and it perhaps to be expected that they might feel upset or even insecure in their new surroundings, but those feelings should subside if their emotional and physical needs are being taken care of.
There are a few key questions you can ask your loved one when you visit and if you question them in a more conversational tone you are more likely to get an answer that can highlight any specific concerns that might need to be addressed.
You will want to know that they are starting to feel comfortable in their surroundings and if not, what things are preventing them from feeling that way. You will also need to try and find out if there is anything in particular that is worrying them, and whether they feel safe or not.
Try and find out how well caregivers respond to the call button in their room and whether they have managed to make some friends with other residents or with a specific caregiver.
It can often be a good sign when your loved one mentions that they like a member of staff in particular, as it demonstrates that they are making new connections and have a certain level of acceptance of their new situation.
Spotting the warning signs
You don’t want to think that your loved one is being mistreated but at the same time, it would be the wrong thing to do to turn a blind eye and hope things improve.
If your loved one seems to be spending a lot of their time alone in their room rather than socializing with others, that withdrawal could be an indication of an underlying concern that they have.
Vary your visiting times and days if you can, so that you can see if their care is consistent throughout the week and there is no noticeable difference regardless of when you visit.
Actively involve yourself in discussions with the caregivers and ask them for feedback on how your loved one is faring as well as asking your relative so that you be reassured there is consistency.
You always hope that your loved one has a positive nursing home experience and enjoys the best quality of life possible, but you have to play your part in making that happen.