Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Nursing homes, Rehabilitation centres, and "Upscale" retirement "communities".

"Gates of Heaven Nursing Home"

Not really. "Gates of Heaven"   This is "Oaken Holt" a mansion in Farmoor, Oxfordshiire, UK.  I worked there when it was a training centre for the old U,K. "Westminster Bank"

In my retirement ministry I spend a fair bit of time in Nursing Homes, Rehabilitation Centres, and "upscale" Retirement Communities.

 Retirement Communities

The greater Sarasota area has more than a handful of these.  They are elegant, exquisite and very expensive. They cater to our very wealthy retirees  - at a high price.  They are extremely well staffed. 

As befits their "station in life", the staff members from the lowliest dish-washers to the highest administrators are  (as T.S.Elliot wrote in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Deferential, glad to be of use,        \
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;


Then there are  Nursing homes, and  Rehabilitation centres

They are springing up like mushrooms in greater Sarasota. The demand is great,

I have been in three such institutions in the past two days.

Here are some general observations.

1.  They are all chronically understaffed. Most have only one Registered Nurse or so, next to no Licenced Practical Nurses, and a host of Certified Nursing Associates (the unsung and underpaid heroes and heroines of  American health care).

There is a chronic shortage of R.N.'s, and  L.P.N.'s in American Geriatric Care facilities.

The C.N.A.'s are underpaid and under appreciated.

2. Most Nursing homes and rehab. facilities are dreadfulu sterile and extrenely institutional.

Wouldn't  it be wonderful if on each wing of these places there was a family room, with slightly faded and comfy chairs, worn carpets, a bit of untidiness, and family photo's  in old fashioned frames on the walls, 

3, It would be terrfic if all staff members received  voice training.

(a)  to use quiet voices at all times.  Yesterday I heard a staff member address a resident in a "stadium voice".  It was "the voice heard around the world"

(b) to announce their names and their roles in a quiet and gentle voice when they enter patients' rooms. I was on the 'phone today with a friend who is in a rehab. unit. As we chatted a man entered her room.  I was pleased to hear her say "who  are you, and why are you here?"  (He was a staff member who was bringing a new "remote" for her T/V..  He should have announced this as he entered her room).

(c)  to stop using those sing-songy high pitched "baby voices" which I associate with under-trained and inferior pre-kindergarten teachers.

Young children in kindergartens,  and older adults in care facilities  should be addressed in  normal adult voices.

4.  Older folks are often in nursing homes and rehab. facilities for physical health reasons. It should not therefore be presumed that they are senile.


5. If you have a friend or family member in a nursing home or /rehab. unit, do be sure to appoint  a patient advocate:  a person who can keep tabs on, and coordinate appropriate services.

6. Nothing I have said is intended  to disparage or undermine the dedicated staffs in such facilities.  BUT I HAVE MY DOUBTS about the money-grabbing corporations which own and operate them.

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