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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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The Advantages of Home Care For the Elderly

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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Elderly homecare involves having an aide come to the house and assist your elderly loved one(s) with whatever they may need. The aide can help with cleaning, laundry, shopping for groceries, and running errands. They can even just spend some time with your elder, conversing, playing cards, or watching a movie, to keep them from feeling lonely. You can hire the aide for as much or as little as you need, depending on how much you can do yourself, and how much your family and/or friends will be helping out. For other needs, like medication monitoring, you can have a visiting nurse come once a week to handle the medication dispensing. Also, you can have your aide help to prepare food, or you can coordinate a food delivery service.

If your elder needs a higher level of care, you can hire a specially trained aide to assist them with mobility, bathing and dressing, and eating. If they need round the clock elderly homecare, you may want to look into having a live-in aide. This sounds like an expensive option, but it may end up being more cost-effective than moving them into assisted living, and they'll be able to maintain the ease and comfort of being in their own surroundings.

Another facet to elderly homecare is the addition of adapted equipment to the home. This can include placing grab bars near the shower, toilet, stairwells, and entryways. If your elder's home is two stories, make sure their bedroom is on the first floor, to eliminate the need to go up and down the stairs several times on a daily basis. Also, remove any throw rugs to reduce the chance of slipping. Look around the house and try to think of other changes you can make to improve the safety of their environment.

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