May 16, 2012

Are Your Loved Ones Getting the Best Care Possible?

Following Monday's post about cohousing as a growing choice for retired folks, today I have a guest post from a lady named Nisha. She writes about a vital part of any housing decision for your loved ones or for you: the quality of the care provided.



One comforting thought of placing a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility is knowing that you're not alone. Our aging population is turning this type of care into a high-growth industry. However, like any industry, extended-care facilities look for ways to cut costs and maximize profits while abiding by laws and regulations. It's up to us to find the best place for our loved ones (and eventually us) and to avoid common pitfalls and problems that can get in the way of quality care.


One of the best ways to ensure a senior gets the best care is to make the choice of facility a top priority. Am example are the facilities in the country of Wales, Care homes in Wales. It knows there is no substitute for due diligence. They strongly recommend you talk to placement agencies, read reviews, and interview your family member's physician. Doctors, particularly geriatricians,  make regular rounds of several facilities and will know which ones have the best approach in medical procedures and emergencies.


Tour several facilities before making a choice, and be sure they have the services to meet your needs. Assisted living with a long-term care unit may be ideal. The choice depends upon your loved one's current and predicted health. If you can't afford an "all-in-one" home, check out facilities that have a hospital nearby.

When you tour, notice the cleanliness of common areas, rehabilitation rooms and patients' rooms. Don't be afraid to talk to residents and staff to be sure they are engaged and have a positive, helpful, compassionate attitude. All of these factors have an effect on the care the home provides.

Your commitment to quality care doesn't end once the person is safely ensconced in their new home. In fact, that's where it becomes even more important. Many nursing homes are understaffed and financially stressed. It is their mission to provide great care for each patient, but details can slip when too much is asked of too few.

This is where you can have a positive impact.

It's an unspoken rule that seniors who have frequent visitors get better care. When the staff sees that family members and friends are actively engaged and present on a regular basis, they are more likely to know the patient's name, habits, preferences and needs. This, in turn, leads to faster and better responses and higher-quality care.

Additionally, you or a family member can speak for your loved one if he or she cannot speak. A family member may know how to read subtle signals that warn of a problem, while a busy staff member might not notice. This is particularly important for patients suffering from a stroke or dementia.

If possible plan to visit your loved one at least once a week. If your schedule is busy, involve family members and friends on a rotating schedule. Dress neatly when you visit and say hello to residents and staff in hallways and common areas. The more positive attention you attract, the more your loved one will be recognized.

Remember that a senior who is simply "dropped off" can become easy prey for unscrupulous employees and staff. Theft is a common problem in nursing homes, even the good ones, and incidents spike when monthly pension checks are deposited. Worse, these incidents can go unreported because the senior may have a faulty memory, or no memory of it at all. Your presence can reduce the risk of this sort of threat.

Over time, keep track of the person's physical condition and personal hygiene. The aged have delicate skin, and one of the first signs of inadequate care is tenderness and bruising at pressure points where the body rests on a wheelchair seat or mattress. If the patient can't turn or shift their weight, they must be turned regularly by the staff. Tenderness and redness are a sign that this isn't happening. Bedsores may soon develop. Make sure that laundry and bedding are clean and dry. If they're not, insist they be made so.


It's difficult but often necessary to surrender the care of a loved one to others. Make a wise decision based on research and good communication, follow through and keep following up. You'll find the best care for your loved senior, with no regrets.

My name is Nisha, I represent a site called mha.org.

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Thanks to Nisha. Her points about regular visits helping to insure better care and attracting positive attention to help staff remember your family member are ones I hadn't thought of in those terms, but I believe she is absolutely right. When my mom was in the last 18 months of her life, our three times a week visits to the health care center, and the presence of my father in her room every day helped make her the center of a lot of staff attention.


Recently I was alerted to another good site that deals with the major problem of abuse of seniors at care facilities and how important it is to report such problems.

Please click and read: http://www.silverribbonproject.com/legal-requirements-to-report-nursing-home-abuse/

 

4 comments:

  1. Timely post for me. We just moved my 93yr.old father in law to a beautiful facility here in the city. He went into 'independent' living but they have 3 other levels when the time comes he needs more care.
    We are so impressed with this place we are planning to move there ourselves when the time comes. I hope it's not all that soon.
    Good advice!
    b

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    1. Thanks, Barb. My mom and dad moved into a continuing care community several years ago. I was very impressed with the care and respect my mom received prior to her death and continue to appreciate the way they are watching out for my dad. He is still in the independent living section and doing well.

      Like you, Betty and I will probably move to the same place when the time is right since the facility has impressed us so.

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  2. Facing similar choices with and for my parents in the not too distant future. The tips and insight certainly are helpful and will be kept in mind. Not an easy choice but one all of us face at some point for ourselves or our loved ones. I must remind all readers that it is not wrong to place your loved ones in an assisted facility or nursing home, as you can not do everything 24 hours per day. We faced this decision with my mother-in-law after a fall. It is wrong to place a loved there and never visit or see that they are getting adequate care. But it was amazing how many insensitive people told us that they would Never! do that to their loved ones and how could we possibly do that. I was just bowled over by their comments. I told them we did it because we did love her and wanted her to have the best care possible and we could no longer do that for her.

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    1. Your comments ring so true. The belief that a family can provide the skilled care needed 24/7 for a loved one after a certain point is simply a fantasy. It harms the person and the family unnecessarily. Those who voiced their displeasure at your decision were wrong, on several levels.

      A good story to read was posted Tuesday on Barb's Zero to 60 and Beyond blog. It is about moving her 93 year old father-in-law into a facility after caring for him for 13 years. It is honest and unflinching. Cut and paste this to read it: http://www.zeroto60andbeyond.com/?p=2247

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