Monday, 6 January 2014

Finding a Good Home....

Many years ago I worked as a hospital social worker, often with people who couldn’t go home and needed to find a care setting to relocate to. One of the things I did as part of my job, was visit nursing homes and retirement homes to get an idea of the kind of care that was offered and a sense of the sort of homes our clients were going to. I remember in the early days of my ‘visits’ to such homes, I would know within a matter of 10 minutes, if it was a place I would want someone I knew to go. What can you learn in 10 minutes though, that would give you a sense of if it was a good or a bad place to go to? I found myself trying to figure out exactly what each place did or didn’t do, or was like, that gave me a ‘gut feeling’ about it. After a couple of these visits I realized that I was reacting in a very sensory way to each place. So, for example, I was reacting to smells, to a sense of clean or not clean, to a bright or dull environments, to the way the residents looked and if they seemed engaged and happy, to things I saw on the walls, to staff I saw or didn’t see around……..really so many things that one would not assume would provide so much information in so short a time. When I started doing the annual retirement home book, I used those sensory impressions, to help devise a questionnaire that caregivers can use when they visit homes for their loved ones. I think it helps to narrow choices and enables people to label the reasons for their impressions. Over the years I have added and subtracted – to date we have a 180 point questionnaire that people can download and take with them on these visits. This knowledge of how we can ‘use our senses’ to determine things by simply paying close attention to all of them and the reactions they stir in us, can help in many situations but if you are looking for a handy questionnaire that can help you in your search for a new home for a loved one, have a look at our website and download our visiting tips straight from the site.

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