As individuals age, there may come a time when they require specialized care and support in a long-term care facility. Selecting the right facility, then, is a decision of utmost importance. After all, this decision will directly impact the quality of life and well-being of the individual.
According to the US Census Bureau, the population aged 65 and over grew at its fastest rate from 2010 to 2020 since 1880. As the population ages, the need for proper long-term care facilities grows.
A high-quality facility can make a significant difference in the physical, emotional, and social aspects of a resident’s life. Here are six essential signs to look for when evaluating a long-term care facility’s quality.
#1 Trained and Compassionate Staff
The heart of any long-term care facility is its staff. A high-quality facility ensures that its staff members are well-trained and experienced in their respective roles. It also ensures that the staff demonstrates a genuine sense of compassion and empathy towards the residents.
From healthcare professionals to admin staff, everyone must have a caring attitude. At the same time, the staff must also be trained in dealing with seniors living in these facilities. This also includes the registered nurses (RNs) who will be regularly interacting with these residents.
Talking about nursing education, Wilkes University explains that the right nursing program can help an RN stay updated in the emerging healthcare delivery systems. A BSN degree followed by an MSN degree is vital in this regard. Even accredited online programs suffice when it comes to developing a nurse’s professionalism.
These days, many RNs opt for an RN-MSN bridge program to fast-track their nursing education. This leads to early clinical placements and gives them more time to obtain real-world training. Such nurses are assets in long-term care facilities as they’re well-versed in theoretical as well as practical nursing practices.
#2 Person-Centered Care
Every resident is unique, with individual needs, preferences, and histories. A top-notch long-term care facility recognizes this and adopts a person-centered care approach. This means that care plans are tailored to each resident’s specific requirements and goals.
Residents should have a say in their daily routines, activities, and even meal choices. A facility that encourages resident participation and respects their autonomy is more likely to provide a higher quality of life.
#3 Clean and Safe Environment
Cleanliness and safety are non-negotiable aspects of any long-term care facility. A well-maintained and hygienic environment is not only essential for residents’ physical health but also contributes to their emotional well-being.
According to Nursing Home Abuse Justice, poor hygiene in nursing homes is a serious problem in the US. Therefore, when you visit the facility you want to keep a senior in, pay extra attention to its cleanliness. Check the bedrooms, restrooms, common areas, and the kitchens. Check if they have safety measures like handrails and non-slip flooring. Any sort of shortcoming regarding resident safety is a straight red flag, a warning that you should take seriously.
#4 Engaging Activities and Social Interaction
Life in a long-term care facility should not be solely about medical care. It should also offer opportunities for residents to engage in meaningful activities and maintain social connections.
Look for facilities that offer a variety of activities catering to different interests and abilities. These activities could range from art classes and gardening to group outings and cultural events. Regular social interaction and engagement contribute to residents’ mental and emotional well-being, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness.
NPR reports that a lack of social interactions puts seniors at a higher risk for developing dementia. Thus, you will want a facility where seniors are not just cared for but are also allowed to build connections and interact.
#5 Nutritious and Appetizing Meals
A nutritious diet is crucial for maintaining residents’ health and vitality. High-quality long-term care facilities prioritize providing well-balanced and appetizing meals that cater to individual dietary needs and preferences.
During your visit, inquire about the menu and how the facility accommodates special diets. Ideally, the facility should have a registered dietitian who collaborates with chefs to ensure that meals are not only healthy but also enjoyable.
#6 Transparent and Responsive Communication
Effective communication between the facility’s staff, residents, and their families is a hallmark of a well-run long-term care facility. Families should be kept well-informed about their loved one’s care plans, health updates, and any changes in the facility’s policies.
Transparent communication builds trust and allows families to actively participate in their loved one’s care journey. Additionally, a high-quality facility is responsive to feedback and concerns, taking immediate steps to address any issues that may arise.
Given the country’s aging population, the US is seeing an increase in the number of long-term care facilities. However, are all of them equally good? Highly unlikely. That’s why it’s up to you to be the judge of this. This is something you can easily do by keeping an eye out for the signs of a high-quality long-term care facility, as discussed above.
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