Senior living providers can design programs that increase the opportunities for residents to be valued within their communities and in the outside world. They have nothing to lose but high depression rates. Here are some ideas to start with.
Those of us in long-term care have undoubtedly witnessed incidents where residents become agitated and staff members don't have the tools to prevent or manage their distress. Unfortunately, psychologists — who could offer such tools — are largely limited in the current reimbursement model to providing individual services to cognitively intact residents.
In my last post, I discussed culture change and its positive impact on the mental health of the residents, particularly at Eden Alternative facilities. I recently also had the opportunity to tour a Green House, which I'd heard about but had never seen. I found this model turned everything I'd known about nursing homes upside down.
Culture change, the Eden Alternative, whatever you call it, things are moving in that direction. In my experience, the nursing home I worked in that was most attentive to the psychosocial needs of the residents was the one that was in the process of becoming an Eden Alternative home
Many, if not most, of the services offered in the nursing home can be provided through home-based care. What sets nursing homes and other long-term care sites apart is the opportunity for residents to socialize with each other with ease. Savvy facilities will make the most of promoting their recreation programs and facilitating connections among residents and their families.
The turnover rate in long-term care is a very significant problem, so I dug into the research about it. Some of the findings were shocking. Others were simply very disappointing. Here's what I found, and what can be done to improve conditions.
After Ms. Ryan's psychotherapy session, I stopped at the nursing station and asked the nurse for the name of her aide. The nurse pointed to a uniformed woman right next to me, who turned and asked me with hostility, "How do you know it was me?" Surprised, I responded, "I just wanted to tell you Ms. Ryan was really happy with how you did her hair today. She wanted me to thank you for her." The aide appeared stunned. The nurse commented, "We usually expect complaints, not compliments."
In my last post, I wrote about some of the many things I do for residents as a long-term care psychologist. The astute reader will note that most of the tasks were accomplished during work hours and within the facility. There's a reason for that.
Many of us in long-term care think of our jobs as a calling. We handle the day-to-day tasks and the business as usual but also get a lot of energy and joy out of taking our work one step further. Here are some actions I've taken that have enriched my patients and my role as a psychologist.
I've heard many complaints about roommates from residents over the years. While some roommate difficulties need to be addressed on a situation-by-situation basis, most conflicts revolve around a few basic issues. Here's a handy guide to conflicts and potential resolutions to print out and give to staff.