A Guide to Nursing Homes: Legal Directives
The moment it has been determined that you or someone you love needs the kind of care that can only be found in nursing home you will be in essence entering into a new kind of community. Consider your choice of nursing home as becoming a part of your extended family. Although this might not be an easy transition for you and your family member the nursing home staff is experienced when it comes to helping make this move as smooth as possible.
The Nursing Home Day to Day
The goal of nursing home care is to provide the kind of intensive one-on-one supervision for residents who need not only medical attention but also attention with other daily activities like bathing or getting dressed. In terms of atmosphere, a nursing home closely resembles a hospital environment. There will be a well trained medical, nursing and orderly staff on call around the clock to tend to the needs of the residents. Just because you might be moving someone you love into a nursing home doesn’t mean your role as caretaker has ended. The truth of the matter is that you are still the primary caregiver. Because of that you need to establish open lines of communication with the nursing and orderly staff who will be taking care of your loved one.
If a special need arises that you feel requires new attention you should first communicate that to the nursing staff. You may find that you develop a close and trusting relationships with a few specific staff members who are working on the floor where your loved one is staying. Those are the staff members you should turn to first with any concerns you might have regarding care.
Plan for the Adjustment
Moving into a nursing home is going to require a period of adjustment. Depending on the medical condition of the resident they are essentially going to find themselves in a strange place, eating strange foods and dealing with strange people; at least from their perspective. This is going to require a period of adjustment for everyone. Most nursing homes recommend that during these first few weeks you attend regular care plan meetings to help develop a comprehensive course of management and support for the new resident.
Set Up the Legal Documents
You will also have to establish several legal documents that provide care directives for the nursing home staff. If the new resident is capable of making their own decisions with regard to their medical treatment then they will be acting on their own behalf. However, if the resident is mentally incapacitated you’ll need to establish a health care proxy. This could either be you or another family member or the resident physician at the nursing home. This would be the person who would determine the best course of medical treatment in the event of a change in the resident condition.
This care directive should also cover any end-of-life decisions such as taking extraordinary measures to resuscitate in case of a catastrophic illness. The bottom line is that you don’t want to leave anything to guess work. All the care for your loved one should be spelled out in detail in a complete care plan that includes these legal directive documents. The nursing home staff will be happy to provide you the templates for these documents.
Don’t hesitate to share you own personal experiences with nursing home care. We want to hear from you and your guidance will be invaluable to others who are seeking out helpful information.