Entering residential care is an enormous transition. For an older person, this time can be very emotionally taxing, stressful, and cause huge fear. Though they likely enjoy the set-up of their current life, worsening physical health often means that continuing to live independently is not possible.
Australia currently has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, making the discussion of residential care quite an urgent one. When individuals 65 years or older reach the stage at which they are no longer able to care for their needs, assisted living is required.
If your loved one is entering residential care, you may have concerns around whether they will continue to have the same enjoyment as they do in their current lives, if they will be satisfied with their new community, and whether their level of care will be satisfactory.
Unfortunately, too many people – especially older persons – have the idea that an assisted living facility is like a detention center. Confined to certain areas with restricted access to the outside world, fed unsavory foods, and a sentence of social isolation, the public perception of aged care homes is less than ideal.
Providing Great Service
But, it’s time to reimagine the potential for comfortable living. When staff is trained in delivering excellent service to their residents, local care is experienced as community living, a second family, and perhaps even a new lease on life. Because of attentive staff and other measures to protect the care of the residents, wellness and longevity can be extended.
Too often, it is a tragic reality that the staff has somehow managed to neglect the needs and care of residents. In our current aging Australian population, new evidence is showing that frailty, pain, and other chronic conditions are also on the rise. This impacts the knowledge and capacity of nurses and home staff to plan and cater to the needs of patients.
This changing landscape of patient health indicates a need for staff to continue upskilling in health care provision and enforce stringent regulatory systems to manage residents. But, as the family of an elderly person in an assisted care facility, there are some tips to make sure they are not being neglected in the home.
Ensuring Medical Expertise
A significant factor to consider is to stay informed about the staff’s medical expertise. If nurses and carers are well-trained, regulated by a medical association (you can ask them or check online), and informed about best practices, your loved one should be in good hands. If management is strong, carers will keep control of blood pressure and sugar level checks and remain especially vigilant over higher-risk residents.
As neglect can be a criminal offense, it is important that staff are motivated to effectively watch over the residents under their care. Though it is impossible to know and see all that happens, for example, if frail residents fall, staff must be trained to respond as quickly as possible. This is especially true for untreated conditions, as neglect of early symptoms can directly lead to fatal illnesses like pneumonia.
Managing Nutrition Needs
Many underestimate, and in so doing, neglect the role that proper nutrition has to play in one’s physical health. For example, if your loved one has any cardiovascular disease diagnosis (for example high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, arrhythmia), neglecting a healthy diet and correct eating can become fatal. Enquire about the residential care’s meal preparation regime and how educated their cooking staff is regarding nutrition.
Getting to know the residential care, staff, and their values, you will be able to better judge whether your elderly is in the right community. Guiding principles that lead staff service should first and foremost be relationship-focused. This means that the staff builds strong relationships with the residents and that trust is fostered.
Due to the intimate relationship between staff and residents, there needs to be respected for the uniqueness of each resident – not simply be treated as just another patient. Allowing a home to share responsibility for your elderly loved one is daunting, but through a partnered commitment to the best course of action, they will enjoy a peaceful, joyous relationship with staff.
Continue communicating regularly with the home staff, asking the right questions, making sure that you are aware of their service, and talk to your loved one too – continuously checking-in to see if they are content with their care and treatment. And, if they do flag a concern or problematic matter, believe them. There is nothing more neglectful than to mistrust a loved one who is relying on your belief to get them the help they deserve.
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