James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor

If there is anyone who knows how to get inside the head of a troubled long-term care resident, it is Eleanor Feldman Barbera. Better than that is the fact that this talented nursing home psychologist is willing to share what she knows.

She does so regularly with insightful guest articles for McKnight’s and her own My Better Nursing Home blog. But now she’s also become a book author. Set for official release Thursday, this is a publication primarily aimed at consumers, yet it can be an invaluable tool for caregivers as well.

Why? Barbera’s mission is to make the individual’s experience at your workplace (and hers) as pleasant as possible. This means smoothing the lines of communication and better understanding the thought processes between resident and caregiver.

“The Savvy Resident’s Guide: Everything You Wanted to Know About Your Nursing Home Stay But Were Afraid to Ask” is available online via Amazon. It’s worth taking a look here to learn about the special deals the author is offering to readers who invest the $13.99 for the 181-page paperback ($4.99 for the Kindle version). The add-ons are a bit dizzying, frankly, but in a good way. I think I added up at least $30 worth of professional audio interviews tossed in as a bonus if you buy during a certain period.


The book is composed in what has become a familiar Dr. El writing style. She excerpts discussions with residents to illustrate various points of emphasis. This is helpful to the potential resident, his or her family members and also caregivers. This often involves three different sets of ears, set to three different frequencies. Under Barbera’s light touch, however, they can tune in together.

You’ll notice immediately that the book is targeted at mostly older, possibly sight-challenged readers because the text is in larger than normal print. That is by design: The style and font were field-tested on seniors before the book headed to the printer. That just makes the pages flow all the faster.

Barbera has numerous reasons why long-term care staffers and operators will find value in “The Savvy Resident’s Guide.” Among them: earning more time to settle down anxious residents and having a resource so you don’t have to answer the same questions every time there is a new resident or family.

Among the helpful definitions and explanations for individuals not necessarily steeped in LTC are tips for working with facility staff members. These are win-win tidbits, as the section titled “Be polite” — which is aimed at residents, remember — illustrates:

“It’s the job of the staff to take care of the residents, and if you could do things yourself, you wouldn’t be here, so it might seem unnecessary to thank the staff for doing their jobs. I’ve noticed, however, that staff members tend to respond better to residents who are polite and express appreciation for their help than to those who don’t.”

While getting into your residents’ heads is great, so is getting the right thoughts into their heads in the first place. Luckily for long-term care professionals, this does both.

“The Savvy Resident’s Guide: Everything You Wanted to Know About Your Nursing Home Stay But Were Afraid to Ask” is on sale at Amazon.com.

Follow Editor James M. Berklan regularly on Twitter @LTCEditorsDesk.