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How to Deal With Difficult Residents in a Nursing Home

If you are a manager or a worker in a nursing home, one of the major challenges you will face is unnecessarily difficult residents.

Interestingly, most of these unnecessarily difficult residents are not deliberately difficult, it could be a result of their sickness or old age.

Yes, studies show that some people get more difficult and irritated by strangers as they age. This is why they term some old people grumpy.

The fact that you don’t have a choice as a worker or manager in a nursing home means that you must find a way around dealing with these difficult residents if you have them in your nursing home.

Your skills or ability to deal with difficult residents is part of the criteria that will qualify you to work in a nursing home. Of course, dealing with difficult residents in a nursing home requires a collaborative and person-centered approach.

In this article, we will look at some of the approaches you can take that will help you work harmoniously with difficult residents.

15 Tips to Deal with Difficult Residents in a Nursing Home

  1. Active Listening

One of the ways you can effectively deal with any difficult resident in a nursing home is to always give them listening ears.

The truth is that people generally open up to anyone willing to listen to them. By doing so, you will have a proper understanding of their perspective and why they are acting the way they act. With that, it will be easier for you to develop an effective resolution.

Trust me, if you can do this even when it seems unreasonable, subsequently they will be willing to listen to whatever suggestion you have especially as it relates to attending to them.

  1. Empathy and Compassion

This is one of the attributes you will be screened for during the interview session. This is very important because, with empathy and compassion, you will be able to see things from the other person’s point of view or perspective. So, to deal with a difficult resident in a nursing home, you must learn to approach them with empathy and compassion.

Interestingly, by just being empathetic and compassionate towards a grumpy resident in a nursing home, you will be able to recognize that they may be experiencing frustration, fear, or discomfort, which can contribute to their challenging behavior.

  1. Effective Communication Skills

Effective communication is a soft skill that can smoothen any rough edges including stubborn situations. With effective communication skills, you can stop a war from happening. Note that effective communication skills are all about knowing how to use the right words at the right time.

If you are a master at deploying effective communication, you can tell someone to go to hell, and they will thank you and then gladly proceed to hell! This is how far effective communication skills can help you deal with difficult residents in a nursing home.

Note that you must be mindful of your tone, body language, and choice of words. With that, you will be able to successfully create a positive and supportive interaction.

  1. Identify Triggers

Come to think of it, some people don’t get difficult without a cause. There may be things that get them irritated which in turn may make them difficult. These things can be termed triggers – anything or words that can get them over the cliff.

So, if you are confronted with a difficult resident in a nursing home, and you want to help resolve what could be responsible for them being difficult, you should start by determining the specific triggers responsible for the challenging behavior they are displaying. Your ability to understand what causes this distress will put you in a better position to proactively address the issues.

  1. Establish Trust

Working in a nursing home requires trust; the residents should be able to trust you if you want them to cooperate with you. This is why your first responsibility as a worker in a nursing home is to build a trusting relationship with the residents.

Of course, consistent and positive interactions will go a long way to contribute to a sense of security, which will help in reducing the likelihood of difficult behavior.

Interestingly, once you can build trust with the residents of a nursing home, they will always look out for you to take care of them.

  1. Individualized Care Plans

The fact that people are different means that in some cases if you don’t know how to relate with them individually, they may resist you, and that in itself may be termed difficult.

So, part of what you need to deal with such difficult residents is to develop individualized care plans that will address the unique needs and preferences of each resident.

You should work towards tailoring care that will help in improving their sense of control and reducing the frustrations they have when they are grouped with everyone else.

  1. Involve Family Members

Sometimes, the best approach to take if you want to effectively work with difficult residents in nursing homes is to get their family members involved. The truth is that there are people in the family of difficult people who know how to relate to them.

So, what you need to do is collaborate with these family members to gain insights into the resident’s history, preferences, and triggers.

Family involvement will always provide valuable support when dealing with difficult residents in nursing homes, and it will go a long way to enhance the care team’s understanding of the resident.

  1. Provide Choices

Of course, not all difficult residents in a nursing home are unreasonable, some of them could be difficult simply because they don’t like the services they are being offered.

If there are such residents in your nursing home, then you need to offer such residents choices whenever possible. In conclusion, empowering such residents to make decisions about their daily routines will help foster a sense of autonomy and reduce resistance.

  1. Consistency in Caregivers

As stated earlier, residents of nursing homes might resist services or become hostile to any new face that they don’t know or like.

This attitude is common with some old people, and the best way to handle such a situation is to do all you can to retain staff members that they are used to – you should strive for consistency in your caregiving staff.

The truth is that familiar faces and routines can promote a sense of security and stability, reducing anxiety and challenging behavior.

  1. Staff Training

Another tip that can help you handle difficult residents in a nursing home is to subject your staff to regular training. Specifically, you should concentrate on training your staff on effective communication and de-escalation techniques.

The fact that there is no challenge without a solution means that with the right training, you will be able to equip your caregivers with the skills they need to handle difficult situations.

  1. Implement Behavior Management Strategies

Apart from staff training, another technique that will help you deal with difficult residents is to implement behavior management strategies in your nursing home. You can work with the interdisciplinary team in your organization to develop behavior management strategies.

These may include redirection, distraction, or therapeutic activities to address challenging behaviors. Trust me, it is a proven strategy that can work for you and your team if efficiently implemented.

  1. Seek Professional Guidance

Sometimes, you might not be able to come up with a strategy on how to deal with difficult residents. If that is the situation, then you may want to consider consulting with a behavioral health specialist or psychologist for guidance on managing difficult behaviors.

Professional expertise can provide valuable insights and intervention strategies that will help handle even the most difficult residents.

  1. Document Incidents

You must be deliberate when it comes to documenting incidents, behaviors, and interventions. The truth is that keeping thorough records of such incidents will help you in identifying patterns, evaluating the effectiveness of strategies, and sharing information with the care team. This will help them improve on the intervention strategies they have in place.

  1. Reassess Care Plans

Sometimes, you would have done all you need to do to make it easier to work with difficult residents in nursing homes but to no avail. In such a situation, what you need to do is to reassess your care plans.

When you periodically reassess and adjust care plans based on the resident’s evolving needs, you can solve some of the triggers that make them prove difficult to deal with.

The truth is that flexibility and adaptability in care strategies are very important when it comes to addressing changing circumstances in an organization like a nursing home.

  1. Respect Dignity and Privacy

Lastly, another strategy that will help you successfully work with unreasonable and difficult residents in a nursing home is simply to respect their dignity and privacy.

Respecting the dignity and privacy of nursing home residents involves honoring their individuality, seeking consent before providing care, and maintaining confidentiality.

Encourage residents to make choices about their daily routines and involve them in decision-making. Ensure physical privacy during personal care activities, use discreet communication methods, and safeguard personal information.

Upholding these principles will help foster a sense of autonomy, dignity, and respect for residents in their living environment.