According to one source, as of 2019, there were well over a million residents occupying nursing homes across the United States, with approximately 72,500 residing here in Pennsylvania. These are our most vulnerable citizens, and they require a greater degree of care than most people. But sadly, nursing home residents are often prone to neglect and poor treatment. Learning how to improve care in nursing homes is essential for turning the tide on this epidemic of poor care and improving the quality of life for nursing home residents.
Balance Safety With Emotional Well-Being
One of the biggest care concerns in nursing homes is the prevalence of COVID-19 among the elderly. Keeping residents safe from this highly contagious illness should be a top priority, especially once the first case breaks in a facility. Everyone should follow increased sanitation and social distancing guidelines when possible. However, it is essential that staff also consider patients’ emotional well-being. This is especially true of patients placed in isolation. When possible, assign caregivers to do regular checks on these individuals and provide stimulating activities for those in isolation to help combat loneliness and depression.
One of the primary reasons that many adults become residents of nursing homes is that they are no longer able to live independently. This may be because of dementia, health conditions, or simply because of the increased risk of falls or other accidents. However, just because residents are unable to operate without help, that doesn’t mean they should be entirely stripped of their independence. Allowing residents to maintain a sense of autonomy even in little ways, such as giving them a choice of activities or meals, will help improve their sense of well-being and hope.
Consider Staff Conditions
We applaud nursing home staff for their tireless dedication to their roles. However, the fact remains that they are often made to work long hours in understaffed situations. This can make it difficult even for the most skilled nurses and caregivers to provide adequate care to patients. Therefore, improving care in nursing homes must include improving conditions for nursing home staff.
It’s essential to schedule sufficient staff for each shift. This will prevent mistakes and, in the case of accidents, will ensure that there are enough hands to help. It is also important to equip staff with adequate tools and sufficient support so they can do their job well. This may involve providing extra training or educational tools for staff. It may also be as simple as emphasizing the importance of communication among nursing staff and creating an environment in which communication avenues are open and consistent.