Even after your loved one is in a long-term care facility, you can play an important role in the quality of his or her care. Because many nursing homes are understaffed, and because no employee can know as much about your loved one as you can, you can be a valuable resource in the care giving process.
From the moment your loved one is admitted, it is important that you get to know his or her regular care providers. Make sure the staff members working with your loved one know his or her preferences and needs. Help them get to know your relative as a person, too, by sharing information about his or her hobbies and history. This kind of sharing becomes especially important if your loved one is unable to communicate well.
To take this a step further, you should maintain an open dialogue with not only your loved one's direct care givers, but the administration and other staff members as well. Be sure to praise the staff when you see fit. Not only will they appreciate the feedback, but you may find that it helps when you need to air a complaint, as well. When a person does nothing but complain, he or she is often dismissed as an all-around negative individual. On the other hand, if you are the source of occasional praise, you are more likely to be perceived as informed and reasonable.
Since most states require some form of regular meetings for resident care plans, those can be another avenue to stay involved in day-to-day care. Make an effort to attend all relevant meetings, and follow up with staff and any involved doctors to make sure that the plan is being followed. If something does not sound right, ask questions and document the answers.
Another great resource is the Long Term Care Ombudsman in your state. Thanks to the Older Americans Act, each state is required to have an ombudsman to assist in quality matters relating to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. If you have any problems and you do not feel that the facility is giving adequate weight to those issues, your state's ombudsman is the place to turn. Be sure to keep the most detailed records you can. Supplying the names of implied employees, dates, times, and the general details of any accidents can help out in an investigation
Finally, you can often find support in the families of other residents. Most nursing homes have some kind of family council that you should be able to join to discuss common care issues. If the facility your loved one is in does not have such an organization, consider starting one. You might be surprised at the positive reception from simply concerned individuals. In addition to giving you a place to air concerns, a family council allows you to speak as a group, giving more power to any complaints or suggestions you and the council might have.
Even though admission to a nursing home may signal the end of your days as the primary care provider for your loved one, your job is far from finished. By staying involved in his or her care, you can ensure a higher quality of care and a healthier and happier loved one.
If you are experiencing fear guilt, or frustration at finding the best nursing home to care for your loved one, then Kenneth E. Strong, Jr. can help you eliminate those helpless feeling and gain peace of mind.