Skilled nursing facilities, commonly called nursing homes, have had a checkered past. Once cold and sterile, like hospitals, nursing homes were forever changed by an industry-wide reform in 2005. The reform called for facilities to embrace the comforts of home, adding carpet, trim, décor, living rooms and other features to make residents as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately, these nursing home myths still exist and the former hospital-like environment is the only impression they have of nursing homes, making the subject of transitioning into a home very difficult to discuss. At Mount Hope Nursing Center, we want our residents to be as comfortable as possible, and not just once they arrive. We’re here to help the transition to run smoothly, and that starts with a conversation. Here are a few common myths and facts about nursing homes to help ease the tension.
Myth 1: A nursing home is just like hospital.
Though nursing care facilities offer medical, rehabilitative and nursing care, they are very different from hospitals. In addition to the home-like atmosphere, these facilities offer activities that are physically, mentally and socially stimulating. Residents in nursing homes are encouraged to live active lives and socialize with each other throughout the day and at meal times, all while receiving the care that they need.
2: I will never go home again once I enter a nursing home.
Contrary to popular belief, many residents are admitted on a short-term basis, while recovering from an injury or an illness. In fact, one-in-four residents at skilled nursing centers stay for less than three months. For recovering residents or those in rehabilitative care, reaching a point where they are able to move home or to an assisted care facility is the staff’s goal. For long-term residents, visits home are encouraged as long as the resident’s health permits. Many skilled nursing care centers coordinate trips, as well.
At Mount Hope Nursing Center, we like to take our residents on short trips, including treating them to a meal at Carriage Crossing in Yoder, Kansas every few weeks!
3: Nursing homes offer little or no privacy.
Nursing home staff are aware of the privacy concerns that many new residents have, and they do their best to offer as much privacy as possible while still promoting a safe environment. Common areas, like dining halls and living rooms are typically “open”, whereas resident rooms are private. Staff members respect this privacy by knocking on the door before entering.
4: Residents cannot express themselves.
As referenced above, residents move into skilled nursing care facilities for a variety of reason. Whether recovering from a fall, going through a rehabilitation program, or receiving long-term care, each resident functions at his or her own level. Though some residents may not be able to express themselves as well as others, skilled nursing facilities are devoted to offering them the care they need. At Mount Hope Nursing center, we welcome residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia and encourage them to participate in group activities. Though these types of conditions are irreversible, proper nutrition, exercise, social stimulation and controlled medication can oftentimes improve memory problems. Our highly-skilled staff is trained to work with each resident to offer the best care available.
5: Residents are unable to make their own decisions.
This is definitely a nursing home myth when it comes to our residents at Mount Hope. Nursing homes strive to maximize the independence of each resident. Residents reserve the legal right to make decisions regarding the care they receive, the medications they take, the activities they participate in, and other aspects of life in a nursing home. In some cases, resident councils, including the resident and family members, are involved in decision making and help the resident to address any concerns he or she may have. Residents also reserve the right to shift the responsibility of decision-making to their children or other family members. An advance directive, another option, is a legal document that allows a resident to predetermine the resident’s wishes for treatment in the event that he or she is unable to communicate these desires.
6: Residents do not receive proper care.
All skilled care nursing centers are given state and federal regulations that outline the quality of care that they must maintain. In addition to this, facilities have their own, internal programs for quality assurance. Each year, a state surveyor visits each nursing center unannounced to ensure that, on any given day, proper care is being given to residents. Surveyors also visit facilities after a complaint has been filed in order to determine its validity. If the surveyor discovers any problems, the nursing home develops a correction plan and implements it immediately.
After a new resident is admitted to a nursing home, a care plan meeting is held with the resident, their family, and a few of the facility’s staff members. This meeting will determine future care practices and health goals, and continued involvement from family members helps this process to be successful.
Mount Hope Nursing Center has continued to receive recognition for the high-quality, skilled care it offers, being named one of the top 20 nursing homes in Kansas by the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network as well as being recognized as one of the U.S. News Best Nursing Homes for 2017-18!
If, for any reason, you are concerned about the care your loved one is receiving, it is important to discuss your concerns with the facility’s director of nursing or the administrator.
7: Nursing homes do not offer nutritious meals.
Nursing home staff members pay careful attention to ensure that they offer meals that are not only well-balanced and nutritious but also in line with the dietary needs and restrictions of each resident. While home-cooked meals are difficult to beat, nursing centers also offer meals that are tasty! Proper nutrition is a key concern for nursing home staff, as it plays a significant role in overall resident health. If you or your loved one are unhappy with the food the facility is serving, address your concern with a staff member.
8: Husbands and wives cannot live together.
Married couples that will be entering a nursing home at the same time are able to share a room as long as this arrangement does not interfere with the healthcare needs of the residents. Nursing facility staff understand that couples who are living together need privacy, and strive to respect this as much as possible.
9: Residents at nursing facilities are lonely.
Frequent social interaction between residents is a high priority in skilled nursing care facilities. In order to encourage these exchanges, facilities offer common areas such as living rooms and shared dining halls where residents can go to enjoy the company of other residents. In addition, Mount Hope Nursing Center’s small staff size allows residents to work with the same caregivers on a regular basis, building close relationships with the staff, too. With several group activities a day, Mount Hope strives to host group activities and outings that stimulate residents physically, mentally and socially. Additionally, family members and friends of residents are welcome to visit whenever they like, and many residents are able to visit them briefly, too.
10: Residents are given medications to keep them sedated.
Many strictly-enforced regulations exist to ensure that this does not occur. For example, one federal regulation requires a consultant pharmacist and a state inspector review the medications of each resident. Additionally, each resident has the right to know what medication he/she is taking, and we encourage all of our residents and their loved ones to be involved in the development and execution of their own, individual care plans. Residents also reserve the right to refuse any or all medications.
11: Nursing facility staff keep residents physically restrained.
This is one of the worst nursing home myths. Mount Hope Nursing Center is a restraint-free facility.
12: All nursing homes are the same.
Although there are regulations by which all nursing homes must abide, no two facilities are the same. Some are larger, requiring larger staff teams and regular rotations that allow residents to interact with many nurses, whereas smaller facilities like Mount Hope Nursing Center allow residents to develop close, meaningful relationships with fewer staff members. Some facilities offer specialized care for different conditions, and while some facilities have great reviews from staff, residents and family members of residents, the reviews of other facilities may not be good. It’s very important to research the facilities that you are considering to get a feel for the nursing home and if it’s a good fit for your situation.