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Is there Evidence of Long-Term Care Supports in a Retirement Home? ...Follow your Nose

Posted Aug 15th, 2016 in Retirement, Tips

Is there Evidence of Long-Term Care Supports in a Retirement Home? ...Follow your Nose

Many Retirement Homes are proclaiming their abilities to provide additional care to Residents and offer a respite oasis as opposed to Long-Term care home admission.  The premise is that they will add care supports and supervision for elderly residents, who can continue to stay in their room or suite, and basically "age in place."

The question remains, "Can the home deliver on these promises, with the appropriate level of care, and education of staff...and can you afford the services?"

I am always acutely aware of my sensory response at a Retirement Home as an indicator to the level of care provided.  There may be pretty pictures, fashionable decor and a smiling receptionist, but what is the appearance of the true heart of the home...the Residents?

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, what is the true perception of the Resident's health and wellness?  If more monitored care is of interest to prospective Clients, check out the designated areas where folks with enhanced care supports are living.  Are people segregated from the mainstream population, and hence required to move in the building when care is needed?

When Touring Homes use your eyes and nose, to determine the attentiveness to care.

  • Are Residents well groomed...is there an overall cleanliness in appearance?

(Think about it:  Is this individual managing their own care or do they require assistance?  Is there a health component where the individual lacks insight into issues with hygiene?  Why hasn't the staff addressed these concerns and provided assistance?  Is this a singular concern or are many residents in need of care?)

Where's the care team?

Is there evidence of body odour and urine? 

(Think about it:  Although some folks do struggle with incontinence issues, guidance regarding available products, education re bathing supports, and facility managed laundry, may be a needed intervention.  Is there an underlying medical issue? (example: bladder infection)  The function of  the care staff is to identify and assist in managing concerns regarding overall wellness.)  

Where's the care team?

Is attire appropriate for the weather and modesty?  

(Think about it: Is the individual struggling with choices and having difficulties with decision making?  This could be a medical red flag. )

Where's the care team?

Are you currently visiting a loved one in a retirement home, and notice changes; emotional, social and/or physical? Has their level of mental clarity changed with resulting fluctuating moods, evidence of confusion and insomnia? Has anyone noticed or approached the Power Of Attorney (health) regarding this concern?

Where's the care team?

Do you have a loved on at this home who has experienced an increase or decrease in activity, appetite, or sleep? Was there a medical consult or intervention?

Where's the care team?

Elders rely on insightful caregivers in these homes, who need to be astute, aware of red flags regarding health changes, and to be responsive. Some symptoms may have gone unnoticed by the Resident themselves.  

Rose coloured glasses may mask the colour of red flags, but I assure you, the flags still exist to a trained eye.

When  looking at homes that encourage elders to age in place, I am always interested in the staff designations; those responsible to assess, observe, and report changes when elders may be experiencing some physical, social, and cognitive losses.

So the next time you preview a retirement home that caters to aging in place for as long as possible, ask the important questions.

1)  Is there a Director of Care (Registered Nurse or Registered Practical Nurse) that oversees Resident wellness?  Using sensitivity and respect in the dialogue, nurses can communicate in a gentle, nonthreatening way when concerns arise.  

2)  What qualifications do the direct care staff have, and what is the fee for service?  

3)  Is there ongoing staff training regarding senior care, and dementia?

4)  is there access to Physician Medical Care?

5)  Ask for costs affiliated with housekeeping, laundry, and care supports (including medication administration)

6)  Is there a nurse on duty 24/7?

Often when looking for a home, families and elders are enticed by grandiose decor.  During my tour, I do notice the aesthetics, but first and foremost, the Residents are my focus.

It is enlightening to visit Retirement settings, and observe the overall human landscape, and the staff/client interactions.  

And when it comes to how care is being managed, I activate my senses and start by following my nose...

For more tips, check out our free mobile apps Elder Pilot: Retirement and Elder Pilot: Long-Term Care, and search the articles on this web site. 

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