Senior Care Centers Require Close Scrutiny

Aug 30th, 2011 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Quality Care for Senior Care Centers

Quality conditions and service vary significantly among Senior Care Centers. (Here we refer to Assisted Care, Memory Care, Nursing Homes, Skilled Nursing facilities, etc.)  Usually the  satisfaction of the resident is directly associated with the quality and effectiveness of that care.  And that is usually attached to the overall costs charged back to the resident.

Quality care, however, even in those top of the line centers cannot always be presumed.  Most such centers, not all, are profit making.  This, as in any enterprise, drives the cost to service ratio.  In smaller communities, even mediocre care can be expensive.  While some residents enjoy both subsidized care and/or long term care insurance, the costs usually are such that additional resources must be called upon.

Keeping staffing and operating costs at a minimum drives the center to offer basic care needs, but often overlooks peculiar situations to the specific resident.  Residents come to a Center with a built in bias.  They had rather live independently in their own homes.  Circumstances, physical and otherwise, do not always reinforce that desire.

Need for Senior Assisted Living Facilities

Thus, the Senior Care Center becomes the logical choice of need.  Enter reality.  Make no mistake Senior Care Centers are institutions.  They are designed and equipped to offer basic day to day services to those who reside there.  The staff are employees.  The management watches the bottom line.  The resident is presumed to be well taken care of.

Herein lies the fallacy.  Residents are often without sufficient experience, sometimes lacking in cognitive ability to express their concerns and needs and to act in behalf of their own self interest.  Enter family, if any, at this point to serve as watch dog, evaluator, and advocate for the senior.

If care is sufficient and satisfactory there will be occasional complaints dealing with one or another of the resident’s concerns and complaints.  That is to be expected, even in a hotel.

On the other hand, there are times when residents make their feelings known about certain of the services and conditions within the center.  Among these are food service, usually an institutional weakness, cleanliness, speed of staff in responding to calls, medication issues, management indifference, lack of adequate training, including sensitivity training to the elderly, and a malaise toward repetitive complaints that suggests it is really the resident’s problem.

Watching with a keen eye becomes the role and function of the family member.  Paying attention to complaints and not sloughing them off as just the ramblings of an older person is critical.  If the complaints are reinforced by the attitudes and observations of others, all the more reason to initiate scrutiny and action.

Once substantiated information is gathered, it then becomes necessary to move to next steps.  They include: conversations with the administrative/management staff, with the goal of their addressing whatever the issue in a reasonable period of time.  This assumes the legitimacy of an issue.  Second,  if no sufficient response is exercised, then family must identify the appropriate upper level administration of concerns, in writing. Third,   if no action has been taken within a reasonable period of time, then the family, and others, if possible, should initiate contact with appropriate state licensing boards, also in writing.

Another possibility can also be suggested.  The Center should create an Advocacy Board made up of  representative residents, family members and administrative staff to hear, on a routine and regular basis, the concerns for resident care.

Scrutiny, being sure the staff is aware of the family and residents watchfulness of them, and feed back loops which help correct insufficiencies are critical to Senior Care Center living. Living in a Center, one does not surrender one’s rights.  Those rights  need to be understood and respected.



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