When talking about lifestyles and nursing homes in the same breath, we should appreciate that it’s a massively complicated subject. The conversation converges on elderly occupants with varying degrees of ill health, concerned families, and expected healthcare standards. But, ultimately, everything boils down to the resident experience and resident journeys from end to end. Therefore, let us expand a little on both so that you, the reader, can appreciate precisely what’s at stake here.
The smooth path to customer-winning journeys and experiences (in any market, not only healthcare) focuses on touchpoints (like stops on a route map). Typical examples of the latter are when nursing home residents:
- Check into the facility for the first time.
- Fall and need fast assistance.
- Want to communicate with family members but can’t get through.
- Get fed up with an unvarying menu.
- Can’t sleep because the temperature is uncomfortable
Indeed, these are just a few of the many scores of touchpoints that impact every resident daily. So, the task of caring for seniors in a nursing home environment is nothing to take lightly, and no small feat. Yes, there are massive rewards for success, but the challenges are formidable.
Leading nursing home healthcare providers understand that rigid adherence to prescribed standards sometimes detracts from the empathy and caring side of the business. As a result, they must find the ideal balance to deliver good quality lifestyles to their residents – somehow striking a balance between caring and being strictly professional.
This article represents the primary aspects of nursing home interaction with residents that impact their lifestyles, making them better than before entering the facility. We’ll also express our thoughts on whether providers are doing an excellent job of it or not.
There’s No Quality Resident Experience Without Resident Respect
Here’s the problem: many older people are sometimes grumpy and irritable. They can test the staff’s patience, especially when they’re under pressure. Moreover, matters can go from bad to worse if illness or chronic frailties are in the equation. So, there’s a thin dividing line between a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere in the nursing home and one driven by stress and breakdowns in communication. Examples of the wrong side of it are when:
- Negative body language is upsetting patients and families alike.
- Attendants losing their tempers, generally signifying the beginning of the end if it occurs too often.
It’s important to establish a nursing home culture and behavior code early on that’s understood and practical from all sides. For example, installing an “ethics hotline” online or phone channel for residents and their families to air dissatisfaction with staff interactions (anonymously if desired). The sooner nursing home stakeholders know about it, the better, because small flames can quickly turn into infernos. Moreover, as nursing home professionals, training and readiness for patient inconsistencies should be on the front burner. A nursing home team that keeps its cool and makes the residents feel like VIPs can compensate for several other shortfalls.
When touring the facility, picking up on disrespectful behavior isn’t easy. Why? Because resident abuse generally occurs at times invisible to visitors. So what can you do to uncover unwanted behavior?
- Focus on general patient demeanor – it can be telling.
- Listen to the resident and don’t dismiss complaints as exaggerations.
- Read the nursing home reviews. A flawed culture transmits in different ways, as does a robust one.
Many nursing homes make ”respect” priority number one, punishing lack of it with culprit dismissal.
Professionalism and Confidence
The first reason for entering a nursing home is to benefit from unobtainable services, skills, and advice, versus living independently or with one’s family. The expectation of filling numerous healthcare gaps comes with the territory. Of course, nursing home care can go to extremes where consistent specialist care is crucial and not necessarily in the nursing home’s mainstream infrastructure. However, assuming a transparent culture where the nursing home doesn’t claim to do things outside of its capabilities, residents want to see the highest degree of expertise for what’s on offer. When they witness indecisiveness or staff floundering for solutions, resident (or family) confidence drains. The latter want value for their money, which means competent staff can face challenges with calmness and control. Most reputable nursing home brands demonstrate industry-standard resources and the level of resolve that goes with it.
The breakdown in the system occurs when nursing homes promise healthcare beyond the scope of the standard services. For example, the onset of Alzheimer’s, extreme aggressiveness, and severe depression can take the nursing home close to or over the edge if they are not ready for it. Indeed, residents are the first to notice these things, resulting in a high churn ratio. Distrust erodes confidence like hot water dissolves salt.
Hygiene and Sanitation
A dirty nursing home facility is a kill-point to any long-term loyalty, no matter how compelling the rest of the package appears. This extends from the hallways to the residents’ quarters, from the dining area to the recreation center. Also, washrooms and the kitchen must be spotless with consistent Lysol or Clorox rub-downs. Outdoor relaxation sections should be litter-free and the flora manicured. In short, the pandemic has created an acute hygiene awareness, and customers offer little tolerance for sanitation lapses.
We wouldn’t pinpoint cleanliness as an improvement in lifestyle. It’s an absolute minimum before anyone considers the nursing home a candidate – period. No amount of staff confidence or resident respect can offset a nursing home with bacteria threats lurking around every corner. So, nursing homes interviewing prospective residents for the first time should emphasize sanitation and cleaning procedures, leaving no doubt that their standards never slip.
A few get hauled over the coals from time to time over poor hygiene. But, for the most part, facilities are on top of it, with many going the extra mile.
This is a massive consideration. Families fear their loved ones will worsen with inactivity and detest unvarying dining menus. Thus, nursing homes that offer events, stimulating hobby opportunities, entertainment, outings, libraries, and more, are better able to create engagement. Moreover, varying the menu with quality foods, catering to special needs, and providing delectable in-between meal snacks is a significant drawcard. Even if handicaps limit the residents, making every day eventful and delivering excitement represents a meaningful lifestyle differentiator. Many nursing homes go over and beyond in this department.
Special Needs and Direct Healthcare Contact
When illness and frailties enter the equation, quality of life naturally deteriorates. Living at home independently makes things very difficult for both the patient and their family. So, the customers who elevate their lifestyle significantly are those that connect to special-need nursing homes. Handing over the baton to a nursing home that can deal with extreme issues and maximize comfort is the ideal solution. In addition:
- Irrespective of the diverse illnesses involved, all older people need physician contact.
- Nursing home policies that allow their residents to see their personal physicians have a significant advantage over those that don’t.
- Seamless and first-hand engagement with general and specialist therapists represents a tremendous benefit. Many nursing home institutions need to be cognizant of this vital requirement.
Crafting a Better Nursing Home Resident Experience
So, a better quality of life depends on the nursing home facility that the resident decides to join. As in any industry, there’s substantial variance between entities active in the market. We can’t overemphasize how crucial it is for respondents to do their due diligence. All the constructs covered above require intense scrutiny, considering the costs involved. Of course, platforms like Medicare and Medicaid kick in here, alongside assessments of caps on different care verticals covered by each. An organized approach should result in getting the most benefits into the mix for an improved lifestyle all around. Need help connecting with your residents or strategizing for exceptional experiences? We’re here to support you!