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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 3 of 4)

Know the shift change time
I am guilty of not following this simple rule! It was actually unintentional, but I picked up my brother for discharge during a shift change. The caregivers were still very accommodating, but it created extra work during an already chaotic time. Knowing the shift change will also allow you to talk to nurses during less busy times. If there is one particular person who is relaying information to you, know his or her shift so there is not frustration when this person does not return the call for hours.

Have patience with the patient.
Your loved one is in pain or, if they are getting better, probably bored out of their mind. Encourage them to participate in the activities at the SNF, but also bring them things to do when you arenít able to visit (crossword puzzles, books, magazines, a deck of cards). When you are visiting, take them outside to get fresh air if possible. Push them around in a wheelchair or walk with them for a change of scenery if allowed. Play cards with them. Talk with them about your day and people they know and miss. Bring pictures for their room. Visit as often as possible. Patients who have visitors are known to heal more quickly than those who do not. While youíre visiting, donít be afraid to say hi to some of the other patients. A smile and a hello to someone stuck in wheelchair (possibly not even aware of where they are or why) never fails to get a return smile or a twinkle in their eye.

Being the Good Caregiver

Know your patients
It was always heartwarming for me to see most of the people where Robert was staying knew him by name and acknowledged him when they saw him outside of his room. They knew he had seizures and took great care to ensure his safety. They were diligent about calling me when seizures did occur. They were caring and compassionate; not only with my brother, but with the other patients as well.

Leave your personal problems at home.
There are some jobs where it doesnít matter if youíre cranky because you got into a fight with your boyfriend or your car wouldnít start that morning. These jobs do not involve serving sick people. When your job is to give the best possible care to someone, there is no room for snippy comments or cranky behavior. Yes, it is not enjoyable to change an adult diaper, but do not make the patient feel bad for being in that position. No one purposely decided to have their body turn on them and lose control. Iíve seen aides change a patientís diaper with love and care and without leaving the patient feeling embarrassed or ashamed. That is a skill you cannot teach, but it is one to aspire to.


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