Essential Requirementsfor Residents
Mary Goudge is an experienced matron/manager who worked in several nursing homes herself before moving on to work as a management consultant in a firm specialising in nursing homes.
To help a new resident feel at home and as happy as they can be in the circumstances, they need to have the basic requirements for an elderly person. These are:
- appropriate food
- kind, understanding staff
- company with people with whom they can make friends
- clean clothing
- toilet training, incontinence pads and pants if required
- help with washing/bathing and toilet
- occupational ploys – hobbies, crafts, etc
- somebody within the staff with whom they can relate
- hand rails along walls, in bathrooms, toilets, etc
- competent care when they are healthy
- competent care during sickness, i.e. headaches, migraines, colds, etc
- a good sized, nicely decorated bedroom with an adequate amount of serviceable furniture including a comfortable bed and chair, wardrobe, chest of drawers, a chair for visitors, commode (if required) curtains and bed linen, towels, etc, hand basin or en-suite facilities.
RESIDENTS WHO NEED NURSING CARE
Due to their physical condition residents who need nursing care need all the above but in addition they also need Registered Nurses on duty at all times who understand:
- their bodily needs
- their illnesses
- their fears and frustrations
- their treatment and nursing care
- how to supervise their nursing care, diet, exercise and drug regime and follow their doctor’s instructions regarding their management, to keep them as healthy, happy and active as possible.
RESIDENTS WHO ARE BLIND
There are specific needs for those who are blind.
- They appreciate hand rails, particularly in long corridors.
- They need staff who will take the trouble to guide them to the bathroom or their own room when necessary.
- They need to be seated in a place where there is a clear pathway from their chair to the door without obstructions on the floor that might cause them to trip when walking.
- They require literature and documents printed in Braille, together with ‘Talking Books’ from the Blind Society.
- Some residents may like to be taken to the local club for the blind if there is one.
A prospective resident who is blind may have a specially trained guide dog whom they would like to keep with them. This would be a matter to discuss with matron and/or the management.
RESIDENTS WHO SUFFER FROM DEAFNESS
Deaf residents may appreciate a loop system if one is fitted in the home.
Deaf residents who could ‘sign’ would find it helpful if some of the staff were able to sign or willing to learn how to sign. In addition, other residents would need to be taught sign language so that the deaf resident is able to communicate with them.
Disabled elderly men and women, who are potential residents, need to be assured of the following:
- That there are sufficient numbers of nursing or care staff on duty at all times and that they are capable of caring for them adequately. Also that they will treat them as normal people.
- The home should be well equipped with hoists and any other equipment they need to help them with the functions of daily living.
- There are kind, understanding staff who will encourage the disabled resident to reach their full potential.
- There should be suitable activities, such as table tennis, board games, wheel-chair games, etc.
- They also need plenty of space!
ELDERLY MENTALLY INFIRM RESIDENTS (EMI)
Elderly residents who are burdened with senile dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other mental illnesses are usually nursed in EMI homes (see Chapter 3).
If the resident has lived in a home for a long period of time and goes on to develop dementia they are often allowed to remain in that home during the early stages of the disease, provided they do not become unmanageable, or until a more suitable placement can be made.
There are many elderly people who have developed a terminal illness such as carcinoma (cancer).
Again their basic needs are the same as any elderly person but in addition they need:
- Hospice nurses who specialise in the care of the terminally ill.
- A specific drug regime to keep any pain at bay.
- Someone they can talk to, to voice their fears, worries and discuss their future.
- Somebody who can help the family come to terms with their loved one’s terminal illness, and their subsequent bereavement.
- Somebody who can give them spiritual help.
The patient’s doctor or consultant can refer them to a hospice for care. Initially the person is assessed by the hospice staff. Drugs (medications) for pain and discomfort are prescribed and given until the person is virtually pain free. The patients are then usually allowed to return home but are visited by a hospice nurse on a regular basis.
If deterioration takes place, arrangements are made for the patient to be re-admitted to the Hospice for further assessment and treatment. The patient, provided they are well enough, is allowed home after each stay in the hospice as long as they are able.
The hospice nurse will advise the family, the doctor and hospice staff as to the progress or deterioration of the patient. They may suggest different methods of care or ways of helping the patient.
The hospice nurse not only looks after the patient but also cares for the family, throughout their loved one’s illness and the family’s bereavement. The hospice movement provides care, help, hope and freedom from pain.
Some nursing homes, in conjunction with the local hospice, reserve beds for residents with a terminal illness. The hospice nurses discuss the ongoing treatment, drug regime and care with the resident’s doctor and the matron before it is put into practice.
Chronic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy are usually nursed in a suitable nursing home but are sometimes cared for in a hospice.
If you are nursing a relative or friend with a chronic illness, you can apply to the social services to give you a break by asking them to find a home which caters for patients needing respite care whilst the carer has a rest. It may be possible for your relative or friend to be admitted for one or two weeks depending on the needs of yourself, the carer, your relative and vacancies.
This type of home does not generally provide nursing care and whoever is admitted should be almost self-caring even though they may need supervision. The temporary residents are well looked after, usually enjoy their stay and look upon it as a holiday.
However, if your relative needs nursing or psychiatric care, they would be admitted to an appropriate home for respite care. You would need to discuss this arrangement with their care manager. Depending on your relative’s financial status, they may be asked for a contribution towards their care.