Dear Church Family,
Many of us are looking at the possibility of loved ones having to be placed in a nursing home or possibly thinking about whether we will need to be placed in one at some point ourselves. It is an unpleasant thought, but doing some research before we get to that point is helpful.
It is good to know what the staff to client ratio is at a facility for all the shifts, how often (in hours) each individual is to be checked on and assisted with toileting, and how often they are given a shower. (This does not ensure the standards you are given are strictly followed.) Also, try to visit during a meal time to see if people are assisted with being fed. I can’t tell you how many times I would go to see my mother-in-law and find her asleep in her chair, her food tray was untouched in front of her with the cover still intact, and a dietary aid was coming in to remove the tray! Yes, nursing homes are very understaffed. However, people do not generally want to pay $12,000 a month (or more) to starve to death. Go ahead and gripe, LOUDLY!!! If they don’t appear to care, let them know you do!!!! Another thing to watch for is the placement of the call bell. Is it within reach? That is a state regulation. My daughter suggested taking pictures on the cell phone and dating them each time we found my mother-in–law sitting in her chair while the call bell was on her bed. (She was unable to walk on her own at this point.)
I have a big problem with the “no restraints” regulation. I understand the reason for it — in the past some facilities used restraints instead of checking on patients. People can be Houdini’s and wiggle out of restraints or hurt themselves trying to get out. However, if someone falls often and suffers from dementia, it seems to be a better way to try to keep them safe. Nursing homes will tell you they cannot posy or restrain people. Not so! I can give you a copy of the law. A restraint may be used if the doctor of the facility writes an order for it. It is more work for the nursing home staff to use it and prove they are not using it in an abusive/punishment type of way. Your loved one would probably get more attention and care if they did have a restraint order! The trick is to get the doctor in charge to write the order for it.
Above all, meet the person in charge of the unit. Ask who the director of nursing and administrators are, and how you can reach them if you have a problem. Call me with questions 315-759-9039.
God Bless, Beth