If the time has come for you to help your loved one transition into a Long Term Care (LTC) facility, look out for these 7 red flags found in communities that may not be up to par.
1. Nurse Aide Attitude- Nurses aides are the heart beat of the facility. These men and women are the hard working individuals who will be directly interacting and caring for your loved one day and night. To a resident, aides are without out a doubt, the single most important component to their new home. When a caregiver is respectful, kind and over all diligent, residents lives can be are affected in a profound and positive way. The opposite also rings true. If an aide is unfriendly, unprofessional and or neglectful to their needs, many residents feel they have no other option but to endure this type of conduct. In some cases elderly residents are mentally or physically incapable of voicing their grievances making it even more imperative that those surrounding them are their advocates. One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a facility is the caregiving staff, don’t forget to speak with the aides and hear what they have to say.
2. Residents Point of View- Don’t be shy, ask a couple of the residents what their number one favorite and least favorite thing is about the community. Keep in mind that you are entering their place of residence, ask the individual permission to speak with them and inquire about their home. They may be thrilled to chat with you and answer your questions or that specific individual may wish to keep private.
3. Noise Level- With beeping call buttons, walkie-talkies, overhead paging systems, phones and talking staff, high noise levels can be constant and especially agitating to older adults. Many facilities cut down on noise pollution in various ways such as, substituting loud paging systems and alert tones with silent red flashing lights above the residents door. If you are unable to visit the community in person, inquire what systems the facility has in place to cut down on noise pollution.
4. Look No Further! A team that truly cares about your loved one’s best interest should encourage you to tour another facility if you have not already done so. Is it wrong for them to want your business? No, of course not. Is it wrong for them to pressure you into choosing their facility when you have not had the chance to tour any others for comparison? I say, yes. Keep in mind that business is business and some marketers can be desperate to fill rooms. If a marketer or administrator is making you feel uncomfortable pressuring you to sign on the dotted line before you feel ready, this is big red flag. Transitioning your loved one is a big move and can be taxing on the elderly, take your time and don’t be pressured into “limited time offers” creating a false sense of urgency.
5. Pop In Problems- If a community will not allow you to pop in for an unscheduled visit that may be a red flag. You need to see the environment as it is on a regular day at any given time. At many facilities management prepares for your visit and because of this you may be seeing them at their very best. While it is great to have the red carpet rolled out for you, coming by unannounced after your initial scheduled tour has it’s benefits as well.
6. Under Staffed, Over worked- Many of us have come across horror stories of severe neglect in nursing homes and other LTC facilities. Understaffing is a leading cause of neglect, abuse and even death. It is not an option, it is absolutely imperative that the facility you choose is properly staffed meeting state regulations. Caregivers can only do so much on their own, ultimately management is responsible for ensuring it’s employees have adequate help on the floor and are not consistently so they are able to do their job properly and safely. Be weary of excuses such as, the caregivers on this hall are “on break”, in transition or being told it’s just an “unusual day” because so-in-so is sick. Bottom line? There should never be an excuse for not providing enough staff to meet the needs of residents.
7. Lack of Life Enrichment- The Life Enrichment Director is responsible for offering each resident emotional, spiritual, physical, social and educational stimulation. The right facility for your loved one should be able to consistently meet these needs. Inquire about available church services, outings, types of activities, weekend schedules and if residents are provided with daily assistance and gentle encouragement to attend activities of interest. Lack of stimulation can lead to isolation and depression. Speak to the manager responsible for activities to get a feel for what they do and do not offer.
There are so many wonderful LTC facilities all over the country diligently caring for our elders. Knowing what to look out for enables you to better choose a community where your loved one can thrive. Leave a comment below and tell us what you look for in a LTC community, we would love to hear your experiences!