I made a promise to my parents and my mother-in-law; as long as we could safely keep them at home they would not go into a nursing home. This is because I have seen conditions in some of these places and did not like what I saw. They were literally people warehouses.
The Nursing Home: I worked at a nursing home for two years as a teenager. The patients ranged from completely aware and able to act on their own to one person in a vegetative state from a car accident many years previously.
For the most part none of them got visitors. Occasionally on a major holiday a family would come to visit their relative, and when they did they could find nothing good to tell the staff. They spent part of their time ranting about the “poor care” being given. Even as a kid I could see that they were guilt rants not “this is intolerable” rants. The patients received excellent care…they were just warehoused, waiting to die.
Skilled Care: This was a step up from the nursing home. Our elder had to spend a week there after breaking her ankle. However, it was still a hospital like setting and the patients didn’t seem to see a lot of family members. There were no private rooms and tracking someone down to help our elder to the bathroom was difficult. The caregiver that took her to and from the bathroom did not like our elder and the feeling was mutual. There was nothing we could do about it except move her as soon as possible. It, too, was a people warehouse…though some of the people were there on a temporary basis.
Board and Care: This was in a beautiful home with lovely yards. There was a dining room and sitting area. Our elder spent most of her time in her room as she wasn’t supposed to put weight on her leg. Her bed had full side rails which upset her a great deal. Most of the other tenants of the house were in later stages of dementia. I heard one being lectured by her daughter to stop biting the caregivers. At least here the patients would get visitors. They had to; we family members had to provide some of the products needed.
The staff was friendly to the family but not always to the patients. There was no abuse, but our elder has always been a forceful personality and dementia hasn’t changed it. I don’t think the staff minded when we moved her out of that facility.
Assisted Living: This is our next adventure when our elder is ready for it. I’ve toured the facility near us a couple of times and it is by far the best I’ve ever seen. There are no set visiting hours. Families come and spend time with their relatives and the staff works to have them interact. It’s a memory care facility, which means in part that they will work to keep her cognitive function at or above the level it is now. This is the first place I’ve seen that isn’t just a place you send an elder to die. It is *not* a people warehouse.
When it comes time for you to make a decision about where an elder will stay, make sure to check out the facility at different times of day. Check on a weekend day and on a week day. See how the staff treats the patients, how much interaction there is between staff and patient. Ask about caregiver to patient ratio. Talk to the residents (if allowed) and try to see if family members actually visit. This will help you avoid a people warehouse.