When our loved ones can no longer care for themselves, sometimes we must put our trust in others to make sure their needs are met. It can be difficult to trust a family member’s care to a complete stranger – how can you be sure that your loved one gets all the care they need and deserve? The answer requires a little vigilance on your part. How can you be sure you’re putting your loved one in a safe nursing home? Here are some suggestions:
Look At the Actions of Other Residents
You’ll likely tour a number of facilities before choosing the new home for your family member. When touring these nursing homes, keep an eye on the behavior of the residents. Do they seem happy and actively engaged? Or do they seem downtrodden or even fearful? Unfortunately, our nation’s elderly are a vulnerable population, as the National Council on Aging estimates that 10% of adults over the age of 60 endure some sort of abuse each year. Erratic or fearful behavior in the residents could be a red flag.
Eat a Meal, if Possible
If it’s possible, share a meal with your loved one in the cafeteria. This is a good way to assess the nutritional habits of the residents. As people age, nutrition becomes an important issue. Does the food look nutritious and hit all the major food groups? More importantly, is it palatable? As older people lose sensory sensitivity, some nursing homes may prepare blander meals. A good cafeteria, however, will stock food that’s nutritious and tastes good – it should also have visual appeal in case your loved one loses interest in eating.
Observe the Staff
One of the most important indicators of a quality home is the interaction between the staff and the residents. When touring the facility, observe these interactions carefully. Does the staff seem kind, and patient? Nursing homes often have combative or incapacitated patients that require a lot of extra care. Do they deliver this care in a compassionate manner?
While you’re at it, ask the staff about their work schedule. Do they work a lot of overtime and double shifts? If so, it could be affecting their patient care. Staff members who are overworked are also overstressed. Even the most even-tempered individuals can run out of patience when they’re overworked.
Take in the Atmosphere
As you’re walking through a facility, observe how the residents spend their afternoons. Are they taking walks on the grounds or socializing in common areas? This is a good sign. It shows that the residents feel comfortable and are more actively engaged in the nursing home environment. A good nursing home will have a daily activity schedule posted with a variety of ways for your loved one to participate. On the other hand, a quiet nursing home where residents are tucked into their rooms watching TV might be a red flag. Even incapacitated patients should have activities brought to their rooms.
Finding a new home for your loved one can be daunting. By making some keen observations, however, you can ensure a safe and engaging fit for this next phase in their lives.