Updated: Feb 6, 2018
January 31, 2018 - Skilled Wound Care
We all know someone - maybe a friend, a family member, or a neighbor - who’s in a long-term care situation.
What’s the natural first impulse? “Of course I should visit!” And you should - maintaining relationships and human connection is absolutely essential to our continued mental, emotional, and spiritual well being (especially if there are physical challenges present).
While it is very important for us to visit those in nursing homes, it is also vital that visitors, and family members especially, have some knowledge on good practices for when they are going into a nursing home environment. A good visit can raise the patient’s spirits, and good spirits can only help wounds heal faster while also improving quality of life.
A good visit can also be useful for family to encourage a patient towards recovery. If the family is supportive and encouraging the patient to participate and do all they can to heal, the recovery process is a much easier one, for everyone involved. Remember that you are an important part of the healthcare team, and your collaboration on the plan for your friend or family member’s care is vital.
Here are some tips from us on how to make nursing home visits productive for patients, family, and staff alike.
Plan the visit for the best part of their day.
Many seniors are more energetic in the earlier part of the day, rather than the afternoon or evening, when younger people get off work. The might also have medical procedures scheduled, or other activities around the nursing home, which might interfere with a visit from family and friends. Thus, it is recommended to call ahead and find out what the schedule is like, and when a given patient is most able to receive visitors.
Make the visit about them.
When family or friends come to see a loved one in a nursing home, the time spent together runs a high risk of being awkward, or one reason or another. The best thing to do in this situation is to keep the focus on the patient receiving the visitor, and not on how the visitors might feel about being in a strange environment. If the patient is able and willing to have a conversation, awesome. However, if it is better to simply sit quietly in company with friends and family, that’s great, too. The visit should be about what the patient needs.
Be aware of the number of visitors and the length of the visit.
Seeing a lot of family and friends can be lovely, especially for patients whose loved ones are not able to make time to visit very often; however, it is also important to not tire the patient out too much. Having a lot of guests at once can be overwhelming, so it is better to come in smaller groups to increase the quality of the visit.
Nursing home patients are not than just patients; they are people. For visitors, that may mean sitting and listening to the stories you may have heard before, or finding topics of conversation that are of interest to the patient.
If family members are coming to visit an older relative in the nursing home, one of the best things they can do is to act the way they always have around them. If they appear uncomfortable, or don’t want to be there, the visit is counterproductive for everyone. However, if they focus on being themselves then they are much more likely to have a good visit.
So whether you know someone who could really use a visit, or whether you’re a healthcare provider who is familiar with the behind-the-scenes reality of life in a nursing home, hopefully these tips can help everyone enjoy their time together more.
Skilled Wound Care is a mobile surgical practice committed to transforming the chronic wound care model in nursing facilities. Wound care experts make weekly bedside visits to patients in long-term care facilities, avoiding transfers to hospitals or clinics. Our expert physicians give patients the most up-to-date and effective wound treatments, and educate facility staff on how to help patients continue to heal quickly and effectively between visits. This model of collaborative care allows SWC’s physicians to improve patients’ lives and health outcomes, to empower nursing staff, and to raise public awareness. Skilled Wound Care, along with its nurse and nursing home partners, is working every day to positively transform traditional nursing home wound care.