Most Americans make a promise to a parent or spouse to never put them in a nursing home and most will be put in a position of having to break that promise by circumstances beyond their control. The usual situation that leads the elderly to a nursing home placement begins with an admission into a hospital for an emergency surgery or illness. From there the person is admitted to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When rehabilitation is completed, the elderly person is either strong enough to go home or continues to become weak and requires 24-hour nursing home care. Picking up infections in hospitals and/or nursing homes are also a risk for elderly with weak immune systems. Infections can leave a person so debilitated that their care needs are not able to be managed at home and a nursing home admission is necessary. Managing care at home – including toileting, bathing, etc. – can be overwhelming for an adult child or spouse, even if they do not have the added obligations of family and a full time job. This is the time where most struggle over the guilt of a broken promise to never put their loved one in a nursing home.
Many think of nursing homes as lonely places where the care is poor, the staff are unskilled, call lights are left unanswered, and as a place where people go to die. If admission is unavoidable, than what is the best way to choose the right nursing home? First, visit some recommended facilities and look on-line for reviews. Note the cleanliness and upkeep of the property. Pay attention to the staff. Are they warm? Welcoming? Do they show genuine care and empathy toward the residents? Attitude and heart go far in making a nursing home a home. Basic questions to ask include: 1) what is the qualifications of the staff; 2) what are the topics and requirement for on-going training of staff; 3) what is the resident-to-staff ratio; 4) how often does a physician check in with residents; and 4) what is the grievance resolution policy and procedure?
There are great nursing homes operating across the country. Taking the time to research the available homes to make the right choice for your loved one will help to ease feelings of guilt and ensure the person receives the care they need.