Linda Jackson: It is also wise for families to be really familiar with the processes for making an application. Many people are so frightened about the thought of a nursing home that they avoid the conversation until a crisis hits.
André Picard: But why do nursing homes have such a frightening reputation? Donna, for example, seems to have high praise for her nursing home?
Donna Macdiarmid: Mary, I felt the same way. Here in New Brunswick, we have to chose three possible nursing homes in order of preference. Then in order to be admitted, your father would have to go through an assessment process. This really cannot be done until you have made the decision to actually place him. One thing you could do is visit the nursing home facilities in your area and think about what your oder of preference would be.
Before I get my answer out, Linda has it done! Guess I am too slow! Linda is correct.
Don't be frightened, Mary, start visiting nursing homes; I have learned from a year and a half of daily exposure, nursing homes are wonderful - we have a whole new network of friends who have become our family.
Linda Jackson: Andre , I believe in general we hear much more about any incidents that occurs and the challenges in a nursing home and that we don't hear from people like Donna who have had a positive experience in a nursing home. I know a lot of caregivers that share Donna's impressions that a nursing home can be the best place for some one with extensive care needs. I also note that the caregiver role does not end when some one moves to a home. Donna, I am glad we agree on the benefits of researching nursing homes well in advance.
The Globe and Mail: On the subject of nursing home reputations, here's an interesting comment from one of our readers:
SandiSandi: The concept of a "home" is viewed so poorly by many. I would like people to consider the possibility that a home can represent a safe and comfortable place to be when a loved one is affected by dementia. When we make decisions driven by guilt they aren't about what is best for our loved ones. My mother-ln-law is now in the hospital with has had 2 falls and is now battling an infection. A strategy to get her to a home may have prevented this very painful situation. She is so confused, physically restrained and not recovering. Our concern is now for her life, not her lifestyle.
Donna Macdiarmid: Andre, yes I have praise for nursing homes although I can't speak for them all. From talking to people in my support group here I have heard nothing but good. The nurses and personal care workers in the facility where my husband now lives are wonderful, kind, caring people and you know what - angels go to work in all nursing homes 24/7. I feel very strongly, however, that families need to be involved, need to visit often, need to get to know the staff and let the staff get to know them. You have to help the staff get to know this person who can't always speak for himself/herself. I don't have a lot of good to say about people who "drop their loved one off at the front door" and walk away.
Linda Jackson: Sandi, your comments are well taken. Caregiving is a journey. In the early days often people need information and education, most people will qualify for some form of community support and many families do a wonderful job caregiving. Some times though it is in the best interest of all to open our minds to residential settings, for either a short period of time or at the latter part of the journey. Families need support regarding the emotional and physical toil of caregiving , and whether thie means support in the home or support in a nursing home, family caregivers need to be supported in recognizing their own needs.
Donna Macdiarmid: Sandi, great comment. Sometimes we have to stop thinking about grief and feeling sorry for ourselves because we have to deal with it. Sometimes we have to do the unselfish thing and do what we think is best for our loved one.