Wednesday, 2 July 2014

How to choose a nursing home for a loved one

Just recently my job with has involved, among other things, working on staffing solutions for nursing homes in Ireland.  I must admit, I haven't had much contact with with Care of the Elderly in Ireland before now; my parents are still young, my grandma lives nearby, still lives alone and manages well.  My teenage son tells me regularly that I had better be nice to him or I will end up in the worst nursing home he can find - and that is the extent of my contact with nursing homes until last the couple of months. It got me thinking, if I am ever in the position to need to find care for a loved one, how would I go about finding the right place, what would be my priorities in ensuring the optimum health and happiness for them? 

So based on my recent experience, here are my top ten pointers for consideration.

1, 2 &3) Location Location Location - The Nursing Home has got to be easy for you and other family members to travel to - this has got to be the number one priority.  Much nicer to be able to drop in for frequent short visits than to have to plan a possibly stressful infrequent day out.    If the Home is near you, it is easier to keep an eye on things too!  Make a shortlist of accessible homes and visit them all at least once.

4)When you visit - look at the facilities, take in the room sizes, are they en-suite?  Single?  Double?  Is there room for personal belongings?  What is the communal space like?  Is it clean and comfortable? Are there phones in each room?  Is there wifi?

5)What is the medication procedure and what are the access arrangements to healthcare/doctors/hospitals?  Do residents still see their own doctors?  What is the preventative care procedure e.g  Are flu vaccinations given as standard?

6)What is the staffing situation?  Talk to the nurses and health care assistants who are working during your visit.  Do they look happy in their work?  Are staff in permanent or agency roles?  Is there a high staff turnover or are residents able to build relationships with their carers?

7)Talk to residents.  Are they well dressed and looking cared for?  Is there any community spirit?  Are there any organised activities?  What is the daily routine?

8) What is the food like?  Does the home cater for special diets? (I have a particular interest in this being from a family of vegetarians - incidentally, there is a UK Charity that specialises in promoting vegetarian diets in Nursing Homes in the UK and Ireland I have been in contact with this excellent charity in my capacity as PRO with the Vegetarian Society of Ireland  Or if your loved one is coeliac, will their diet be properly catered for?

9)Is the Nursing Home Secure?  Do residents have a safe storage place for precious items?  Is the home alarmed?  Are individual rooms alarmed?  Are all staff properly Garda Vetted?

10)Lastly, look at the price.  What is covered in the cost you have been quoted, should you expect further charges.  Are there extra charges for laundry for example?

Choosing a home is never going to be a nice decision but we all want to do the best we can (unless you're my teenage son!) I hope my top ten list helps if you have to make a decision in the near future.