3 things to look for in a nursing home

It was common once before for families in Asia to be big, where two or three generations lived together and looked after each other. This is not necessarily true these days, as more and more children choose to move out of their family homes and live on their own or with their spouses.

Extended families simply don’t want to live all together today, if they don’t have to for economic reasons. Most want more “elbow room” and don’t want to live like Hong Kongers.

In fact, today, the “nuclear family” tends to consist of just two to four kids and two parents, with grandparents, aunties and uncles living elsewhere. And, of course, the kids of your ageing parents or grandparents need to work in order to keep up with the high cost of living. They likely are not the “family caregivers” of the past.

So, you end up needing alternatives for elderly relatives. One of those options – whether you like it or not – is a nursing home.

Searching for a nursing home for your loved ones can be a challenge. It’s not something you, your siblings, your kids and especially your older relatives look forward to.

The task of deciding which nursing home to send them to frequently comes with short notice, demanding an immediate decision and action, especially after someone has had a bad fall or suffered a stroke.

1. Adequate staffing

At a glance, you will notice the number of staff that are on duty in the centre. This is a small detail that is often overlooked by care seekers.

According to National Nurses United, the appropriate Registered Nurse-to-Patient ratio for Skilled Nursing Facilities and Rehabilitation Facilities is 1:5 during each shift.

Why is this ratio important? Having an adequate number of qualified staff ensures the safety of every resident in the facility. Without proper supervision, these residents are prone to falls, undetected clinical conditions and other hazards.

Aside from safety, delivering high-quality care is only possible when the number of qualified staff is up to par.

It is almost impossible for two or three staff to care for 20 residents. The residents will not receive proper care and the staff are at high risk of burnout and lashing out at residents.

2. Cleanliness (individual and environment)

Another observable quality of a facility is its cleanliness. The centre should be free of stench and stains.

Staff members should be aware and prioritise not just the cleanliness of the surroundings but also the hygiene of each and every resident in the facility.

Residents should not be made to sit in their urine or faecal matter. They should routinely have their diapers inspected and changed, receive regular oral cleansing, regular baths (bed baths for the immobile) and have their clothes washed regularly.

Both the residents and the environment should appear clean and neat. However, there will be periods of time where the staff are performing routine diaper changes. Unpleasant odours are inevitable during this time of the day.

3. Owned or managed by trained medical professionals

Unlike an old folks home or an assisted living centre, a Skilled Nursing Facility or Nursing Home usually takes in individuals with ailments.

On top of general care – feeding, cleaning, diaper-changes, this group requires additional care that only a skilled professional can deliver. For example, physical therapy, feeding tube changes, urinary tube changes, tube feeding, oxygen therapy and more.

It is of vital importance that the facility has these licenced professionals, including doctors, nurses and therapists on board.

Besides paper qualifications, it is crucial that the staff are also competent (hands-on) and well trained. An error in medical or nursing care can be seriously detrimental to the health of your loved ones.

A good facility often conducts training sessions to improve and update staff members. Staff may also be sent for external training, depending on their needs. Look around too. Are the staff happy?

Do residents seem happy and content (given their age and condition, of course)? Are there daily activities? Does the food look good? There’s a lot you can learn through simple observation.

Good nursing homes in Malaysia are few and far between, but the quality is now improving and more are opening every day.

Sometimes you may have to pay a little more to have your loved one live in a high-quality nursing facility but it’s usually worth it, both for the resident’s health and well-being, and for your peace of mind.

Take your time, consider all you’ve just read, and you’ll make the right decision.

This article was written by Andrew Mastrandonas, Co-founder and CEO of Pillar (www.pillarcare.com) and reviewed by Dr Lim Geng Yan (M.D). Pillar provides a range of elderly home caregiving services, sending trained and certified professional caregivers and nurses to clients’ homes. For more information please visit https://care.pillarcare.com/fmtpromo