Long-term nursing care is a big decision, and can often be a difficult one to make for everyone involved. There are plenty of considerations for patients and their caregivers, and making a choice can be stressful. But with the right mindset-and the right questions-selecting a long-term care facility can provide positive opportunities for patients and offer peace of mind to families.
What is Long-Term Care?
Simply put, long-term care is a solution for patients who need help with their physical and psychological needs over an extended period of time. According to the National Care Planning Council, long-term care is often necessary when patients need assistance with daily activities like walking, bathing, dressing, toileting/incontinence, and eating and food preparation.
Long-term care covers a range of practices and can be provided in the home of a patient, a caregiver’s home, or a residential facility. When most of us think of long-term care, we envision a nursing home or skilled care residential facility, where licensed providers offer tend to patients who live on site. A nursing home is usually the best choice for patients who can’t manage daily activities on their own. Most patients in nursing homes are over 65 years old, but nursing homes are suited for younger patients with chronic disabilities.
Does My Loved One Need Long-Term Care?
Deciding on long-term residential care is a major decision that hinges on a loved one’s ability to take care of themselves, along with financial considerations and family structure.
Most families begin to consider long-term residential care when their loved one needs routine help with daily activities and medical care, or needs supervision to avoid injuring themselves. Some of the most common conditions requiring ongoing long-term care include chronic medical conditions, dementia, and permanent disabilities.
What Is Life Like in Long-Term Care?
Moving into a residential long-term care facility is almost always a big adjustment. But when done with care and preparation, it can be a positive step for both patients and caregivers. Overall, skilled nursing facilities have shaken off any negative connotations from past decades. Thanks to greater oversight, most nursing facilities are now well-equipped and well-regulated and offer opportunities for monitoring and socialization that other set-ups can’t provide. Modern nursing homes place a very high value on building relationships with patients and families.
According to the American Health Care Association, the idea that a long-term care facility is like a hospital is a common misconception. Nursing homes can provide needed medical care and support while creating a warm atmosphere where comfort and familiar faces are key. According to the AHCA, the goal at most facilities is to balance social opportunities in common areas like dining facilities, common rooms, and outdoor spaces, while offering patients privacy in their personal spaces.
Some of the daily activities at a residential facility can include:
- Daily wellness checks and assistance with medication
- Help with personal care including bathing, grooming, and toileting
- Nutritional meals, and help with feeding when necessary
- Occupational and physical therapy as needed
- Supervision by nurses and licensed practical nurses, along with a support team helping with food preparation, cleaning, maintenance and other important roles
- Round the clock monitoring
- Activities and social opportunities built into the schedule
Long-Term Care For Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease represent a significant percentage of the long-term care population and usually live within separate units in nursing homes.
The trend in care for patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is to avoid the idea of warehousing patients and instead to offer facilities staffed by caring individuals with specialized training. Modern long-term care practices for dementia patients are designed with quality of life in mind and provide meaningful structured activities intended to create a sense of connection and well-being. The ideal nursing facility for dementia patients provides a home-like environment that includes supervised independence, thereby keeping patients engaged and active.
Choosing A Long Term Care Facility
Families have a lot to think about when selecting a long-term care facility for a loved one. According to the National Care Planning Council (NCPC), the amenities of a facility are not necessarily the primary consideration. Instead, the skill and dedication of administration and staff are essential. Look at a facility’s training program for staff-to-patient ratios and staff turnover.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) offer a checklist for choosing a long-term care facility. Some of the highlights include social activities, living space, daily schedules and policies related to visitors.
According to the NCPC, once a family decides on a facility, obtaining a referral from a doctor or hospital is a good way to begin the process of entering a facility. References from family and friends or community services agencies can also be valuable. And finally, according to CMMS, scheduling a visit is necessary to finding a place that feels like a home for your loved one, where family members remain valued partners in ensuring their well-being. For more information about long-term nursing care, contact Evergreen Health and Rehab today.