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ARTICLES / General / When A Loved One Needs a Skilled Nursing Facility

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When a Loved One Needs a Skilled Nursing Facility
Tips for a successful stay for the patient, visitor and caregiver

by Trish Hughes Kreis

(Page 1 of 4)

My brother recently needed to stay in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) for two months. My brother. Not my mother.  Not my father. Not my Great Aunt Josie (not that I actually have a Great Aunt Josie). My 43-year-old-brother.

Robert is disabled due to uncontrolled epilepsy. That’s not exactly why he needed to stay in a skilled nursing facility, however. The short version is Robert kept getting serious staph infections after an epilepsy-related surgery and was going to require a six week course of intravenous antibiotics. This is where the skilled nursing facility came in.

This experience was, for me, a crash course in the language of skilled nursing, residential care and all the medical jargon you can imagine.

Of course, Robert’s not the first person to enter a SNF nor will he be the last. Robert may be unusual as far as the age range of the population at SNFs, but the population in general keeps getting older and many of us or our loved ones will require skilled nursing care at some point in our lives.

My crash course involved figuring out how Robert can be a good patient, how I can be a good visitor and how the SNF can be a good caregiver. The good people at the skilled nursing facility with which I am familiar helped me create this list, but it certainly could apply at all SNFs. As one administrator said, “Good outcomes only occur when there is communication and partnership to the care.”

Realistically help manage your pain
If you felt well, you wouldn’t be in a SNF. People go to SNFs to recover from knee or hip replacement surgery, to receive i/v antibiotics, to transition from intense hospital care to a slightly lower level of nursing care and, hopefully, eventually back to home or to a residential care facility. Many times, patients are in pain and require pain medication. One guideline for patients is to help the doctors and nurses manage the pain effectively. Don’t cry wolf by asking every ten minutes for more pain pills. Work with the doctor to be sure the dose is adequate for the pain and there is a plan for breakthrough pain.


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