Gone are the days where facilities would be described as smelling “like cabbage”, or you would hear of residents being restrained to keep them seated, and bed rails used to confine them to their beds.
We no longer accept the institutionalised approach of requiring all residents to be up, showered and in the lounge by 9am for newspaper reading.
Aged care in today’s world paints a much brighter picture of putting people first.
Today’s residents are encouraged to stay in their own homes as long as possible, resulting in significantly older people with more complex needs now commonly being admitted to aged care facilities, according to reports.
The challenge here is accepting that by the time an older person is admitted to care, their quality of life has often diminished to the point where the resident is unable to participate in the innovative and inspiring programmes offered, due to health limitations or disease process progression.
If that person had come into care at an earlier stage, their quality of life may have been more social, stimulating and of a much higher standard.
A “one size fits all” approach no longer is acceptable.
The “institution” concept is now a myth, and is frowned upon in today’s world, as providers are expected to consider individual needs and goals, and to tailor care packages to meet these.
One challenge with ensuring this is employing proactive staff who think and interact outside the box, and leave the world in a better place than when the day started.
Care staff work incredibly hard, and creating a culture of celebrating little wins each day is vital to reinforce to staff that they are valued and do an amazing job.
Feedback from families and loved ones is crucial to ensure the providers are on track, and should be welcomed.
We constantly encounter the challenge of family members not accepting that aged residential facility care providers are not one-to-one care providers.
Families often expect care staff or nurses to be with their loved one 24 hours a day, which is both unrealistic and unachievable in this care setting.
There are always risks of their loved one starting to fall frequently, or experiencing bruising, skin tears and infections, when in fact these also occur in their own home environment. Coming into a care facility does not remove these risks.
In serious cases, where a resident’s safety or the safety of other residents may be compromised, the facility may negotiate with their local DHB for funding to provide a special watch person for an agreed amount of time.
We continue to advocate for families who have loved ones in their own homes, and encourage those who may be considering looking at care placement to speak with their GP and have the referral lodged early.
There is often a lengthy wait time for in-home assessments, and each week that passes your loved one is potentially deteriorating further.
We encourage you to go out and speak with the aged care providers of your choice. Do your homework. Plan your futures together. Be prepared.
We welcome anyone for a chat, to seek clarification or advice on the process ahead, or simply to talk to people who understand.
BY MELISSA HARRIS