Typically nursing homes operate off of the quality of care given to the residents but in the future, the quality of life of each resident will be how they operate. The quality of life concept means that residents will have more control over their daily activities and medical care. Different people are going to have different goals and the following are part of the movement towards giving the residents a better quality of life.
Respecting the residents’ individual needs and wishes is the first step towards the future. It’s true that each resident has their own care plan but those are usually in place to increase efficiency and not maximize the residents quality of life. Bathing schedules and the time the resident has to get up in the morning are a couple examples of these inefficiencies.
Usually the meals that are served are given at specific times and not everyone will want, or need, to eat at that time. Many centers are also allowing the residents to be flexible with when they wake up and, depending on the time they choose, will have different choices for breakfast. For example, if they choose to wake up early they may get a hot meal as opposed to eating cereal or a Danish if they choose to wake up later in the morning. Not having to get all of the residents up at the same time to eat would also make it easier on the staff.
When it comes to bathing and showering, currently most facilities determine how many times, and sometimes what time, the residents shower each week. Some residents may not even want to shower or take a bath, understandably, but discussing with the residents their preferences shows that the facility cares about them and wants to fulfill their wants and needs. It may also take some compromising on both sides to work out all of the details.
Having this goal shows that the facility is trying to individualize each resident and figure out what works for them. It lets them still have some control over the decisions that are made regarding their life. It may be hard or cost to implement these changes and it might just be a matter of dealing with the staff and the way things are currently done.
Opportunities for continual growth and development are another step for the future. Learning how to use a computer and sending e-mail, reading or listening to literature on tape, or taking up a new hobby can help growth and development for residents. Even residents with dementia, although it may be harder, can participate in activities with the staffs help. Contributing to the community can help them feel accomplished and appreciated. Running programs and activities or doing chores like sweeping or raking leaves can also help them in this area. Letting them talk about what they did as a profession and experiences to others is a great way to start.
It has been shown that having visit from family and friends increases alertness and smiling in residents and decreases agitation. Facilities like the visitors of the residents to feel comfortable in order to increase the amount of visits and the length of the visits. One way they will do this is encouraging activities besides visiting in the residents’ room.
Although it will take some significant changes, having regular assignments for the staff and talking with the residents can be the first step towards having a team approach in nursing homes. The foundation of the future of nursing homes is being focused on the positive aspects of individualism and understanding the abilities to be a part of meaningful relationships.