Take a Proactive Approach to Personalized and Attentive Nursing Home Care

Even though you’ve gone through the process to find the right nursing home for your friend or family member, there’s more you can do to ensure they have the best care possible. This creative approach was recently shared with me by one of my clients.

Create a one-page introduction for the resident or future resident. Similar to a short biography, these introductions provide a lot of useful information for nursing home caregivers. Even if your loved one is already living in a nursing home, these notes to caregivers are something you can and should do.

They will encourage the staff get to know your loved one beyond the basic information they would normally receive in a medical chart. Mostly, it demonstrates to the nursing home staff that there are people who care about this person’s health and his or her well-being, enough to go above and beyond. The written notes will keep your wishes, and the resident’s wishes, front and center, even when you can’t be there to advocate in person. Finally, by creating this paperwork, you help remove the possibility that a staff member could claim that they “didn’t know” about your friend or family member’s needs or preferences.

These introductions aren’t hard to create. Use the following examples to help create one of your own:

• Include a recent photo of your loved one. Place the image at the top of the page to make it clear whom you’re discussing.

• Write it in first-person tense, as if your loved one had written it him or herself. If possible, engage him or her to either write it or assist you so nothing important is left out.

• Tell a little about the person’s life, such as their family’s names, their former career and hobbies they enjoy.

• Explain what sort of foods they prefer, and what beverages they like to drink, including when and how often. For instance, it might be important to say they love an early breakfast, or a late snack. List allergies and foods they simply don’t like.

• Emphasize that there’s nothing wrong with their mind, if that’s the case, and that they understand everything that’s said to them. If they’re talkative, mention that. The opportunity for their caregivers to know them on a personal level can only improve the care they receive.

• If religion is important, mention it.

• Everyone has favorite television shows, magazines or authors. If the resident is going to be there awhile, it’s important that they aren’t cut off from things they love. Don’t forget to mention if your loved one uses glasses for certain activities.

• Personal preferences for certain types of pillows, or how many blankets to put on the bed, are helpful.

• Even though caregivers know that residents need to be turned or have their positions changed every two hours, it doesn’t hurt to remind the staff.

• List and explain any health issues you can think of, and don’t assume everyone will read the resident’s chart or be familiar with their case.

Lastly, thank the caregiver in advance for the wonderful treatment they provide and how important that is to you and to the resident. With your effort and the understanding of the staff, the time your loved one spends in a nursing home can be peaceful and restorative.

I’m passionate about doing everything I can to ensure our elders have a really good experience moving to a place where they can get the support and care they deserve. Sometimes, elderly people don’t have a voice. We can be their voice. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you have about your loved one’s nursing home experience.