Nursing Homes - Good or Bad?
If you have an elderly friend or relative, you will understand how stressful and upsetting it can be to watch them struggle at home. It is even harder if you have an active responsibility to help them whilst you are trying to look after a family of your own and hold down a job .
That is why healthcare professionals such as myself are employed to take the burden away – you are then free to spend quality time with your loved ones without the awkwardness or responsibility that comes attached to personal care.
The Good Side of Nursing Homes
I understand why the general public may feel uneasy about nursing homes, based on the countless horror stories you hear these days. The truth is, nursing homes are not like they used to be; regulations set by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are stricter than ever before and staff are expected to attend mandatory training on a regular basis to protect vulnerable adults and to safeguard them from harm.
It is true that nursing care still has a long way to go. Just think, when we are old we will expect pizzas delivered to our door; rooms furnished top to bottom with Xboxes and designer wardrobes! Until that day time comes, it is important to realise that under such establishments are ordinary people like you and I with a passion for helping others. Caring for another person and offering them a better quality of life is the biggest luxury you could ever give someone.
Nursing homes are also good for lonely elderly people; maybe they have lost their spouse or close friends over the years...giving them the opportunity to live with other like-minded folk is like offering them a new lease of life. Staff are always on duty 24 hours, 7 days a week, which is also more reassuring than occasional home help visits.
A lot of nursing homes now cater for special dietary needs too. Gone are the days of serving cold, brown, tasteless sludge. Some nursing homes I have worked in provide posh looking h'orderves and snacks on demand; this is great for those with poor appetites needing a nutritional boost.
The Bad Side of Nursing Homes
It is true, that nursing homes can charge a hefty sum of money each month to stay there; some families just can't afford to part with £700+ a week, no matter how hard they scrimp and save. That is why, the government often have to step in and help out. What with the bleak future of the economy, this is a real cause for concern.
The truth of the matter is, once you take into account the rent, the food, heating, the 24/7 care and laundry facilities, the asking price is somewhat justified considering the owner has to make a profit and pay all the staff.
It is unfortunate that a lot of nursing homes pay very little money to the carers and nurses they employ – some a lot worse than others. Low wage care homes seem to attract young and inexperienced care staff, barely out of college. It is true that everyone has to start somewhere, although it only becomes a worry when the inexperienced care staff outweigh the experienced ones. You really do get what you pay for in this sense.
On a slightly different note, watch out for nursing homes that smell of urine when you walk inside - nobody likes a living environment like that. There is no excuse for poor cleanliness so don't put up with it.
Case Study: The New Life of Mrs W
Some of our nursing home residents were in a very poor state when they lived at home; one elderly woman, Mrs W, came in with sores all over her body from lying in bed all the time. Her family tried to care for her but they didn't have the skills or facilities to do the job properly.
She was so frail, she couldn't even lift her head; the muscles in her body were wasting away from inactivity...yet her daughter was certain she did the very best she could for her. The best decision she made was sending her mother into care.
We soon got Mrs W strong again. We turned her frequently, allowing her skin to heal itself. She was eating a varied, balanced diet, enabling her body to repair internal organs and bodily functions. Soon, she had the strength to lift her head all by herself.
Several months later, Mrs W was able to sit out in her chair – it was so amazing to see her sat at the dinner table, feeding herself and socialising with other residents. Her relatives were over the moon, yet regretted the fact that they hadn't made the decision sooner.
How to Choose the Best Nursing Home
It is true that you have to visit a few nursing homes until you find a good one. Quite often, your local health authorities will be able to recommend a few good places. If not, ask around or locate some up to date inspection reports online – nursing homes are given a star rating depending on the overall quality of the service, so this is quite a good indicator.
If a nursing home has plenty of modern facilities and equipment, you can be pretty safe in the assumption that the owners take pride in their establishment. A well maintained nursing home is important for health and safety reasons but don't underestimate the power of good, tasteful décor! If one is to live there, it has to look and feel like home.
If you think you have found a nice nursing home but you are scared to make the plunge, a good tip is to ask for a trial run. This is known as respite care; some families just want a break away for a week or two whilst their relatives test run the facilities - the perfect way to get accustomed to nursing home life before moving in permanently.
In Conclusion: Nursing Homes are not so Bad...
Keep all your options open and take an unbiased approach to care, especially nursing homes. Put any stigmas behind you and give it a try! If you are disappointed with the options available to you, its not too late to seek advice - there is a whole host of other care packages out there to try.
Try to involve your loved one in any decision making where possible – if they feel happy and valued as individuals, they are more likely to accept and embrace their new life in a nursing home care setting. They can only do this with the true love and support of their family and friends.