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When It Comes To Long Term Care Communities, Keep Your Expectations In Perspective

For the first time in the seven years that I have been a senior living advisor, I actually told a prospective client not to move their loved one out of the current long term care community. About 50% of my clients come from the children of elderly loved ones who “did it themselves” the first time around. The result is often placement at the wrong level of care, or at a community that “looked nice,” but delivers poor care. This time, I actually discouraged my prospect from making a change.

The elderly loved one had been placed at a county facility and was paying privately. If I had done the initial placement, I probably wouldn’t have selected it as one of my top three choices. However, the community has a respectable reputation. The senior had begun rehabilitation in the short term rehab. unit. After the senior hit a plateau under Medicare, the decision was made to keep the individual in the long term care area.The family expressed concern over the fact that the staff was much smaller in the long term care area versus the staffing in the short term rehab. unit. Staffing is always better in the short term unit in opposition to the custodial care that the residents receive in the long term areas, a fact that the family was unaware of.

They also told me that they were disappointed that the staff appeared disinterested and was not “engaging with” their loved one. My answer was that most of the communities are understaffed. Nursing home care is not one-to one care, a fact that many of my prospects don’t understand until I explain it to them. On the average, a loved one could be sharing a certified nurse assistant with nine other residents, another fact they were unaware of. I explained if the expectation was to “engage” their loved one, they should hire a companion from one of the licensed home care agencies.

They did have one legitimate gripe which was the fact that the loved one developed a bed sore. They had a terrible time getting an explanation as to how it developed. The staff ordered and applied the appropriate cream. The sore healed.

I had actually gone to the meeting with the intention of suggesting a change to a particular nursing home in the area. The nursing home had a fabulous reputation for delivering good quality, compassionate care. To my surprise, they had toured the community and were not impressed..

So, the family asked me if I felt it was necessary to change communities at this point in time. My answer was “no.” What they were experiencing is pretty much the status quo and they needed to adjust their expectations of what long term care communities could be like. I told them I could make some referrals to communities that had a staffing level that was a bit better. But, there was a chance that they could put their loved one and themselves through the stress of a move, and have results that weren’t better. Please keep your expectations in line, and don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire!