Friday, 25 September 2015

What's it like inside?

On a fairly regular basis, I speak with seniors and their families about different care options. It's surprising how many people have no idea or have the wrong impression, of what a retirement home is like. Many assume that retirement homes are the same as  long-term care homes - which they most definitely is not! Others think you have to need all sorts of care to get into them. Many of these people who make these incorrect assumptions have never walked into a retirement home and often are basing their beliefs on something someone else told them or information from years gone by.

As someone who has visited many, many homes over the years, I have to say that most people would be very pleasantly surprised if they went for a visit. Newer homes look more like a hotel or a cruise ship on land than an institution. Many have 'chef-prepared' meals and varied menus. Some have swimming pools and spas on site. Most have gyms and a full activity calendar. The healthier a person is when the enter, the more there will be to do. Even older homes have a lot to offer as many have renovated to keep up with the changes in the industry. While cost might be a factor for some, for those who have an existing property that they can sell, they may find the cost involved is equal to or less than what they were paying to live in their own homes, especially if they had services and assistance coming into the home.

My advice to everyone considering relocation is to visit a few retirement homes to see what they have to offer. If your health is a bit of an issue you may be best to explore options while you are still able - waiting until a crisis may limit your choices and create a situation where you only have the option of long-term care. We find that with many people, going into a retirement home when they are still relatively healthy, keeps them healthy longer and for many, allows them to avoid long-term care entirely.

Many retirement homes have events open to the public where you can see a bit of the home as well. If you want to see more, they will all be pleased to take you for a tour. If you think it might be a place you want to live in, ask about a trial stay for a few days to see what it's really like in a retirement home - you might be quite pleasantly surprised!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Nursing Homes in the News

Yesterday's paper. Front page news. Nursing homes and bedsores. Yet again, nursing homes in the news. And not in a good way. I don't think good experiences are ever reported. Not that they don't happen; I have heard a few positive stories over the years - but good news doesn't sell papers.

The stories of two people were disturbing to say the least. One woman dying of her sores, another ending up hospitalized because of them. Both nursing homes were interviewed and both said that changes had been made since the incidents to decrease the chance of it happening again. These are two homes - what about the hundreds of others province-wide? While our government is doing better with inspections and reports, apparently it is not enough. The reality is, even if they go in once a year or even more frequently, ultimately it all comes down to trust that when they are not there, the home performs and provides care as they should as if an inspector was sitting there 24/7. The government can create standards galore but, the reality is, unless the staff in the homes follow them to the letter, incidents like those detailed in our paper yesterday, will keep happening.

It highlights the importance of families staying involved and understanding that even when a relative is moved to a care setting, they are still 'care givers' and need to be involved and advocate the minute they have concerns. It is unfortunate that entrusting someone you love to an institution dedicated to providing care for the elderly, does not guarantee good care. But it is a reality right now. There are some wonderful places that provide excellent care; but there are others that simply do not or can do better.  While relocating someone to a care home can relieve pressure on a family and provide necessary care, there will always be situations when family involvement is important and necessary. Do keep this in mind if you are in the process of searching for alternate care for a loved one or if you have someone you care about in a home.

Be present. Ask Questions. Watch, Look and Listen. Visit at different times a day and on different days. Stay involved. Advocate for the person who cannot do it for themselves. If you have concerns, contact administration immediately.