Just the name nursing home can send chills down the spine of an older adult. Despite massive advancements, many nursing homes continue to struggle with breaking away from unwanted stigmas stemming from the past.

How nursing home stigmas began.

Nursing homes have a long and complex history, but lets focus on a few key issues:

Before nursing homes there were places called Almshouses, also known as Poorhouses. People of all ages, ailments and disabilities who were unable to support themselves were housed together, rarely receiving proper care. Almshouses became despised for their disfunction seen as dumping grounds for the elderly, mentally ill, orphaned and those deemed “unfit” for society.

These institutions were finally banned in the 1900’s. The outlaw of Almshouses, brought relief to communities all over the U.S. as they forged ahead towards something better. In the 50’s, nursing homes were established focusing on geriatric care. Though nursing homes were an improvement, the establishment was not without faults. They were mostly cold and clinical, modeled after hospitals and memories of ill treated elderly within Almshouses still lingered in the air.

Fast forward to the 70’s, real fear set in as abuse in nursing homes became a national scandal. The media shed light on the what people feared the most, that nursing homes were still scary, untrustworthy and dangerous places to end up. “Park and Die” headlines were rampant leading everyone to one conclusion, the nursing home industry must change in a big way. The good news is, the majority of them did.

Making a culture change.

Today, leaders of the senior care industry strive to rid old stigmas by listening to what the elderly and their families truly want out of nursing homes. Families wanted what most everyone wanted to see a complete culture change. A huge number of communities have created warm homelike environments where staff is trained to go into work each day with the attitude that they are entering someone’s home and not as if the residents are patients in their place of work. You will likely find that a high number of today’s nursing homes work hard to provide a combination of safety, comfort, life enriching activities and quality medical care to each and every resident.

Other ways nursing homes are squashing stigmas.

Some nursing homes are rebranding themselves avoiding the name all together going by health centers, care centers or attaching themselves to independent and assisted living communities. Other language has changed within the industry as well. Foe example, instead of the word facility, you might hear the term community, neighborhood or apartments. When referring to the elderly, staff refers to them as residents instead of patients and address them by their preferred name. These may seem like small changes but language, attitude and staff mindset can have a huge impact on a residents daily life.


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