I admit I am a bit of a foodie. If there is a show about gourmet food, especially with a competition, I’m pretty sure I’m going to watch it. Everything from “Top Chef,” “Mixology,” “Iron Chef,” to “Chopped” and “Somebody Feed Phil.” 

I am fascinated by what these chefs create. And, I admit, I really like good food.

But I do remember my dad always fixing me a fried bologna sandwich with mustard and a big slice of tomato. Nothing gourmand about it but, boy, was it good and comforting. Like a hug! And as I was reminiscing, I thought of how that relates to our field of work.

OK, just stay with me for a bit. You see, it seems like there is a lot of emphasis lately about improving the physical environment of nursing homes. I’m not talking about the new federal nursing home standards that include provisions to ensure resident safety part because that’s a given. I mean, there’s no debate about having working sprinklers and stuff like that. No interpretation needed.

But I am talking about the part about making things more home-like. That is open to interpretation. And some interpret it as chandeliers, plush carpets, granite counters, crown moldings, tray ceilings, abstract art work and indoor fountains. (Yes, I saw this at a SNF in Lakewood Ranch Florida!) I mean, is all that really necessary and, like, maybe that’s a fancy vacation but most of us don’t live that way. I don’t think that means home-like; and I don’t think we need to overthink it.

But what if the environment is clean, warm and inviting? Pretty bedspreads and local art. Hallways uncluttered with med carts or wheelchairs. Nursing pods instead of obstructive nursing stations.  Maybe an earth tone paint color instead of boring industrial white. Dining rooms that look like, well, dining rooms. With plants, pictures, table cloths, cloth napkins, real plates, music in the background; all making it more inviting. And while no one wakes up and says, “Gee, I think I’ll check into a nursing home today,” a nursing “home-like” environment should make you feel safe and be inviting. 

And the food doesn’t have to be five-star gourmet. But it should be something that speaks to the locality of the residents. What are the foods people like in the area you operate in? Is it fried catfish, greens, biscuits and gravy? Is it meatloaf and mashed potatoes? Pasta and garlic bread? What is the food hug? 

All I am saying is, while fancy is nice and all, sometimes all we need is a fried bologna sandwich to feel safe and loved.

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

 The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real-life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.