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When considering the nursing home option for parents or other loved ones, here are a few of the main advantages to keep to mind:

Better resources and equipment: Private homes simply don’t have the types of medical equipment and supplies needed to help seniors stay healthy. Many nursing homes are almost as advanced as hospitals in their ability to provide sophisticated care for patients on a 24-hour basis.

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High-quality long-term care: Due to modern medicine, seniors now live longer than ever. While we’re thankful for this, longer life-spans often come with longer periods of late-life illness and disability. Caring for a senior relative at home is often a long-term commitment of many years, sometimes requiring intensive care.

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When choosing an elderly care facility, it is important to know the difference between a nursing home and a senior citizens' residence. Barbados nursing homes usually provide short or long term nursing care in private or semi-private rooms, including, meals, activities, and personal care. Barbados nursing homes must have a registered nurse on duty at all times. Barbados Senior citizen residences provide short or long term nursing care (assisted living) in private or semi-private rooms, including, meals, activities, and personal care but do not require a registered nurse at all times. However, a registered nurse must be on call when required at a senior citizens' residence. The differences between a nursing home and a senior citizens' residence do not necessarily define the quality of care but basically helps you to identify the level of care you or your family member may require.

Choosing either a senior citizen residence or a nursing home may be stressful for you and your loved ones. It is helpful to plan ahead and understand the level of care that may be required. You should visit and compare a range of nursing care facilities or have someone visit and compare them for you. Make good financial plans early. Planning ahead gives you and your family more control and can help ensure that your short or long-term care needs are met. Both Barbados nursing homes and Barbados Senior citizen residences provides care for the elderly who can no longer care for themselves at home due to physical or other health related issues.

Steps to choosing a Barbados nursing home or senior citizens' residence that meet your needs:

1. Find out about the various services provided by the facility.
2. Find out how facility compare in quality.
3. Visit the facility you are interested in, or have one of their registered nurses visit your family member for an assessment.
4. Choose the facility that best meets the need of your family member and you.
5. Ask other people you know who have a friend or family member in the facility you are evaluating, if they are or were satisfied with the quality of care they received at the senior citizens' residence or nursing home.

Although you or your loved one may consider the clean appearance of a nursing home or senior citizens' residence, new paint, sparkling floors or lush surroundings, is no indicator of quality care. Quality care comes from people who work in the facility. You will recognize a well run senior citizens' residence or nursing home by the way you are greeted at the entrance and the way management expresses compassion towards your needs. If you cannot visit the facility yourself, you may want a family member or friend to visit for you.

Take a formal tour:

• Make an appointment and visit the senior citizens' residence or nursing home.
• Trust your senses. If there is an icy atmosphere as you enter or it does not have the homely, welcoming feeling you would expect in such an environment; then reconsider.
• Take a formal tour of the senior citizens' residence or nursing home with the supervisory staff member.
• Look around to get a better picture of the services, activities available, and the level of personal care of the residents.
• Look for safety rails in hallways, bed rails, and grab bars in bathrooms
• Do the nursing assistants seem genuinely fond of the residents?
• Do you see staff smiling or conversing with the residents?
• Is the living environment noisy and confusing or is it pleasant to the eyes and ears?
• Do you hear any laughter?
• Do you hear anyone singing?
• Is a TV blasting or are the call bells annoyingly loud?
• Are pathways and bathrooms kept clear of clutter?
• Are lunch dishes still noticeable unclean after 4PM?
• Is the kitchen screened to maintain a clean environment
• Does the temperature of the room/s feel too hot?
• Are there air conditioned or fan cooled areas?
• Use your sense of smell to detect any unpleasant odors bearing in mind that at any time some of the residents may be incontinent.

Ask questions during your tour:

• Ask questions that can help you compare the senior citizens' residence or nursing home.
• What services does the care facility provide?
• Ask the nursing assistants how long they have worked at the facility.
• Does the care facility have a current license issued by the Ministry of Health?
• Are staff members certified by The Nursing Council of Barbados?
• Do they charge a basic fee for room, meals, and personal care?
• Do they charge extra for other services or care for special medical needs?
• Ask about the length of time the care facility has been in business
• Ask to see residents' living spaces (private or multiple occupancies), hallway, stairs, lounge, bathrooms, dining area, menus, laundry services, activities plan and personal care plan.
• Is there use of a computer, fax machine or email available for quick transmission and receipt of important information?
• Are Admission Forms, Resident Personal Appliance Forms, Resident Valuables and Personal Forms, Leave of Absence Forms, Nursing Care Plan, Medication Charts and Resident Bed-Hold Agreement Forms etc., available?
• Is there a contract that clearly spells out the terms and conditions of the services offered?
• Ask where medications are stored to ensure that they are kept safely.
• Ask about emergency plans and procedures for patients who are ill
• Ask about emergency plans and procedures as it applies to hurricane preparedness.

The most important factor is the staff. The director of nursing or administrator sets the tone for the facility. She or he must demonstrate a sense of compassion, good organizational and interpersonal skills. Those with poor people skills cause high employee turnover. Talk to the nursing assistants to determine if they like working with management and residents. A skilled, friendly nursing staff is the key to good care.

Current Licenses and insurances (property and liability)

Although a current License from the Barbados Ministry of Health may not reflect the true nature of the care facility, ask to see it. By law the institution should operate with current License issued by the Ministry of Health, as well as property and liability insurances. If you receive excuses about why it is not available you may want to reconsider.

Quality of Life

Does the staff treat residents in a respectful way? Are there a variety of social, recreational, religious, or cultural activities? Do the residents have choices about their schedule and living space? Do the residents have privacy for visits or personal care?

Quality of Care

Is there enough staff to ensure that residents are getting the care they need? Can residents still see their personal doctors? Can you visit as often as you wish? Having visitors can make the transition to the senior citizens' residence or nursing home easier for you and your family member.

Preventive Care: Does the nursing home make sure that residents get preventive care to help keep them healthy?

Your informed choice will help you or your loved one in making an agreeable change from living at home to living in a senior citizens' residence or a nursing home. You can be your loved ones' advocate by observing their potential care and living conditions and discussing them with your family or family member.

Remember, there is more to choosing a senior citizens' residence or nursing home that just the price. It is the quality of care that counts.

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Putting an Elderly Parent in a Nursing Home

Older people might not develop diseases such as osteoporosis, arthritis and similar, however these conditions are easier developed by the senior population than by the younger among us. Sadly they are higher risk people and the caregiver has the obligation to help them reduce these risks whenever possible.

It is important that the home is a safe haven for the seniors. Falling anywhere in the home can happen easily so reducing the risks of them having an accident is important. When the person is leaving their home or returning back, particular care needs to be taken with curbs and slippery areas. Most of the injuries though happen at home, so this is why it is important for the caregiver or the family to ensure proper safety as well as making the room easily accessible.

Stairs are usually high risk for elderly simply because the older a person gets, the more difficult it becomes to go up or down the stairs due to arthritis and the inability of bending the knees as one used to do. Stairs can be poorly lit which makes them even more dangerous. In some places installing a stair lift should solve many of the problems that staircases present to the seniors. However having proper lit stairways is important as well regardless whether there is a lift or not in the house.

Proper lighting is useful in the entire home, not only around the stairs. Various corridors and tighter areas should have small lamps for ensuring that there are no dark areas in the home. Many people install sensor lights whereby the light will turn on anytime there is motion around the area. After a few minutes the light turns off automatically, which makes sure that there are no high electricity bills running due to leaving the light on all day and night.

The bathroom is another room in the house that needs special handling when a senior citizen is living there. Proper lighting gives an additional layer of safety in the bathroom. The place should be well lit and light switches should be easily accessible upon entrance.

As the bathroom floor tends to be slippery by nature due to the water splashed, regular carpet mats should be replaced with non-slip mats that do not move and slide around. Sometimes commercial mats such as those used in the kitchen can work quite well too. Also adding grabbing bars next to the toilet, sink area, as well as the shower is a great idea and will enhance the safety of the person using the bathroom. Even towel bars could be replaced by grab bars for added security.

Finally adding wide non-skid tape to high-risk places, such staircases, curb areas and bathroom floors makes the home additionally safe for elderly, and not to forget small children, who are very easy to fall and bruise as well.

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