Senior Nursing Care

Contrary to the belief that those who run senior nursing care facilities are making large sums of money, the reality is that most nursing facilities suffer from staff shortages due to the fact that senior nursing aides are over-worked and are in high-stress jobs.  Additionally, states require that there be a specific nurse to resident ratio, which increases labor costs for the provider.

Here are a number of suggestions that can help you evaluate the senior nursing care location or provider, and decide whether staff members like their work and care about the residents, or are they just putting in their hours for a paycheck:

  • Watch to see if each person on the staff seems to know the residents and call them by their names.
  • Listen for laughter and friendly conversation coming from residents’ rooms and community rooms
  • Ask about turnover rates.  High turnover usually indicates poor working conditions, which can include lack of respect toward staff on the part of administrators.
  • Ask whether nurses are available 24/7.
  • Check to see if dishes are sitting around, hours after mealtime, which was over long ago, which may indicate staff shortages.
  • Note how quickly nurse’s aides respond to call lights and buzzers.  A resident shouldn’t have to wait 30 minutes to get another blanket or have the air-conditioning adjusted.

Try to feel the pulse of live in the senior nursing care home.  This can be difficult when you’re merely passing through, but it’s not impossible.  Holidays, for example, should be celebrated with decorations and appropriate activities.  Family members should be invited to participate in festivities and enjoy dinner with their elder at various times throughout the year.  Find out whether active family councils exist and monthly residents’ meetings occur.  Are religious services held, and are special diets available for those with religious restrictions?

See what’s posted on the activity board and then turn up in the appointed place to see whether the activity is happening.  It’s a very bad sign when residents are simply parked in front of a TV rather than doing what’s described on the activity schedule.  And just because your senior may be bed-bound doesn’t mean the facility is exempt from planning appropriate activities for them — they could still have social events to celebrate or enjoy a holiday visit from the local elementary school, etc.  Talk with residents.  Ask how they like living in the senior nursing care home?  Can they get outside to a lawn or garden with ease?   Is someone available to help them walk or do range-of-motion exercises?

Also, roommates are extremely important to most senior nursing home residents.  Find out how rooms and roommates are selected.  Do residents have a voice in the selection of roommates?  Is a process in place to make appropriate matches?  Can residents have a say in where they sit in the dining room?  Can they change places if they’re not happy?  Dining-room seating arrangements should be for the pleasure of the elders, not the convenience of the staff.

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