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How to Change Clients Negative Perception About Nursing Homes

Are you finding it hard to attract clients to your nursing home? If YES, here are 6 awesome ways to change clients negative perception about nursing homes.

At the mention of nursing homes, people’s perception automatically go to end of life and maltreatment. It is a fact that nursing homes are usually on the news for the wrong reasons (but this is not to say that no good news come out of nursing homes).

Analysis of media portrayals of nursing homes finds that negative stories outnumber positive stories by five to one, reports a study in the December issue of Medical Care.

This negative news coverage of nursing homes has shaped public perception of these homes and have projected them in very unfavorable light. Because of this, people are generally unwilling to take their folks and loved ones to nursing homes, thereby reducing the viability of that industry.

In fact, nursing homes, including those branded as skilled nursing facilities or rehabilitation centers, are facing underutilization. Occupancy rates have been steadily falling, save for a few quarterly spikes. The national utilization rate was about 86% in mid-2012; this year it is 81.8%.

This has projected a worrisome trend for the industry as well as for entrepreneurs that run nursing homes. But this trend needs not continue. It indeed can be reversed and we will look at ways on how public perception can be reversed as regards nursing homes so that the industry can stand firm once again.

Regular Complaints from Clients About Nursing Homes

It is a fact that you have to know where things went wrong before you can attempt to find a solution. So before we can attempt to find a solution to the ugly perception of nursing homes, let us attempt to find out why they have such ugly public perceptions in the first place. Thus, we want to look into the regular complaints residents make regarding nursing homes.

  1. Malnutrition

Malnourishment and lack of proper nutrition are prevalent issues in nursing homes. Elderly individuals need all their vitamins and minerals every single day to meet their bodies’ demands. If the diet that nursing homes provide its residents does not contain the proper nutrients, malnutrition is going to become an issue among the population. Unfortunately, undernourishment is common in nursing homes today.

Another important problem in nursing homes today is dehydration. Along with malnutrition, dehydration represents one of the most common health issues in nursing home residents. Studies show that nearly 1,600,000 elderly people live in nursing homes in the united states and about one third of them have to deal with some kind of malnourishment.

It may be incredible to believe, but in some nursing homes, malnutrition can affect as many as 85% of the residents. Also, there are a number of elderly people who are underweight; that number accounts for up to 50% of the residents in most nursing homes.

Some of the signs of elderly malnutrition may include, but are not limited to:

  • Oral Symptoms: Family members might find canker sores and excessive redness in the mouth of the patient. Also, thrush and perhaps a yeast infection could be the culprit of white patches in the cheeks and tongue of the malnourished patient.
  • Wasting Muscles: When the body runs out of nutrients that are stocked in the muscles, the muscles might become noticeably flaccid. Another sign of debilitating muscles due to malnutrition is prolonged fatigue.
  • Eye Symptoms: If the patient experiences eye redness or swollen corneas, malnourishment could be the culprit. This can cause the elder’s vision to also become deteriorated.

Improper nutrition is normally caused by the disregard of the staff members in a nursing home, carelessness, and lack of concern.

  1. Nursing homes are expensive

One of the biggest downfalls of a nursing home is the high cost of living. It can cost families thousands of dollars a year to put a senior family member into a nursing home, and it’s often not an expense that the family is ready to handle just yet.

In California, the average rate for a private room runs at $307 per day, totaling more than $112,000 per year. If your loved one does not have plenty of retirement savings set aside to help cover the cost, a nursing home might simply not be an option your family can afford.

If parents have set aside part of their retirement savings to cover the costs of living in a nursing home, then it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. But if that money isn’t available, nursing homes might not be a feasible option for many families.

  1. Nursing homes can be depressing

Uprooting a loved one from the familiarity and comfort of the only home they have known for years can cause depression. Aside from being a huge change, many seniors fear moving into a nursing home because they see it as a final step before the end of their life.

This is usually true, since they typically do not return to their own homes. Living in a nursing home can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, a primary cause of poor health among older adults. And for seniors with dementia, removing them from familiar surroundings has been shown to result in faster cognitive decline.

  1. Loss of freedom and independence

After living full, independent lives, it’s often difficult to convince a senior citizen to move into a nursing home where they may lose much of that sense of freedom that they’ve grown so accustomed to their entire lives. While a regimented schedule can be a benefit to their overall health, many residents miss being able to do what they want when they want to do it.

Many nursing homes offer scheduled activities where participation is encouraged, but not necessary, giving residents their own right to choose what they would like to do. While a nursing home schedule might be beneficial to your loved one’s overall health, the loss of freedom and independence can cause them to lose self-esteem as they are no longer in control of their own life.

  1. Lack of proximity to family

Depending on where you live, there might not be a quality nursing home facility located close by. A long drive to visit on the weekends can take a toll on family members over time.

Even if you are able to visit regularly, your loved one may still feel a lack of family presence, increasing feelings of loneliness and depression. Most nursing home staff do their best to build a sense of community among residents, but for seniors they’re still not family.

  1. Nursing home horror stories

Perhaps the reason so many people have negative views on nursing homes is that there are so many horror stories out there about these homes. These are stories of nursing home neglect, abuse or other mistreatment of the people that we love so dearly.

These stories are the major reasons why most people balk at the idea of sending their loved ones to nursing homes. It is a fact that most of these stories are few and far in between, but they have shaped public perception so much that people have come to associate them with nursing homes.

6 Factors Affecting the Existence of Nursing Homes

  1. They are usually understaffed

Nursing homes are built in such a way that nurses are the major caregivers because most residents of nursing homes have specialized medical needs. But the major concern for nursing homes is that they don’t have enough staff to go round.

Growing evidence suggests that workload has an adverse effect on quality of care and patient safety in nursing homes. Concerns about workload in nursing homes have increased in the past few decades. Nursing homes deal with an increasing workload due to the rising number of elderly people, financial difficulties, understaffing, increased complexity of care, and higher expectations regarding the quality of care.

Because caregivers interact intensively with the patient, they are able to assess the patient’s condition and listen to any concerns that the patient may voice. However, when confronted with a high workload, caregivers may not have the time to assess the psychosocial and physical status of patients due to limited opportunities to interact with patients and other caregivers.

This may hinder the proactive care that detects early signs of clinical deterioration or complications and arrange follow-up interventions, resulting in leaving at least one essential task undone. Consequently, quality of care and patient safety will be diminished.

  1. Competition

One issue that can make or mar a business is competition, and nursing homes are now facing a lot of competition from rival sectors and they are finding it hard to cope. Currently — and perhaps surprisingly — nursing homes, including those branded as skilled nursing facilities or rehabilitation centers, are facing underutilization.

Occupancy rates have been steadily falling, save for a few quarterly spikes. The national utilization rate was about 86% in mid-2012; this year it is 81.8%.

But the biggest reason for empty beds in nursing homes is that more alternatives exist nowadays. Assisted-living facilities and home health-care, by large margins, are the leading growth areas. This shouldn’t be surprising. Nursing homes, symbolically and often in reality, represent life’s bleak last stop.

People try to delay their nursing home arrival as long as possible. And older people with even middle-class means almost always choose less institutional settings than a nursing home, at least until their money runs out or care becomes impossible anywhere else. Then, a nursing home becomes the provider of last resort.

  1. Technology

Technology is another factor that has been ripping steadily at the fabric of nursing homes. In fact, there is a lot of potential for old folks to delay their nursing home years even further, as technology is developed that might allow people to spend more years aging at home.

Now children would be more comfortable with their parents living alone in their later years if sensors in their home could report that they are safe.

  1. Medicaid

Perhaps the bigger looming threat to nursing homes is their dependence on state Medicaid programs, which are in danger of losing matching federal funds as Washington grapples with healthcare reform. When people think of Medicaid, their first response frequently is to think of welfare recipients with no job.

But about 20% of Medicaid spending is on long-term care, much of it nursing care for people who have outlived their assets. Medicaid is the primary payer for long-term care, including $55 billion that went to nursing homes in 2015, covering six in 10 nursing home patients.

The variety of proposals that would limit Medicaid financing would threaten this funding, and any facility depending on Medicaid would likely need to reduce staff, leading to declines in care quality, making it even harder for these facilities to compete with alternatives available to individuals who have private funds available.

  1. Difficulties in recruiting nurses

Another problem facing nursing homes is difficulties in recruiting nurses. The State of Care report found that 20% of nursing homes do not have enough staff on duty to ensure that residents received good and safe care and their turnover and vacancy rates are among the highest in social care.

This affects the nurses already working in social care. The reason for this is that nurses would much rather go where there are less job loads and more institutional job applications than stay back in nursing homes

  1. Increased complexity of care

Social care has changed dramatically in the last two decades: now residential homes have residents who would previously have been in nursing homes – and nursing homes look after people who would have required hospital care.

As demographics have changed, people are living for longer with more complex conditions – most notably, dementia. Homes with nursing are expected to care for people with acute needs, while also ensuring a community aspect to the care.

Less that 80% of nursing homes inspected met CQC standards for safety, compared to 85% of residential care homes. The increased complexity of care is one explanation for the problems faced by nursing homes.

How to Change Clients Negative Perception About Nursing Homes

  1. Work on media perception

It is a fact that the media plays a huge role in shaping public perception. People would generally believe what they hear in the news. For a long time now, the news have been inundated with horror stories coming from nursing homes, thus making people scared to send their loved ones there.

If you want to continue in business as a nursing home, you owe it as a duty to change this public perception. Start from your own home, and project activities that put nursing homes in very good light.

Create community events, organize day outings and occasionally invite the media to your home to interact with the residents. Doing all these would paint a positive picture of nursing homes that contradict previous perceptions. It would in turn make people positively inclined to bring their loved ones over.

  1. Provide quality care

Quality of care and culture change are large contributors to changing the face of nursing home care as revealed in a statewide survey of nursing home residents and their families in Missouri. Because of the poor quality care provided by some nursing homes, they have been generally termed to be awful places.

This is one thing that needs to change if you want to change people’s perception about nursing homes. You should be able to recruit top notch staff to care for the residents, and your staff to resident ratio should be quite acceptable and within government standards.

Your staff should be patient with residents that need special care, such as ones that need special care and attention during meal times.

  1. Improve on feeding

Food and feeding tops the list of complaints from residents and loved ones against nursing homes. It is a fact that most nursing homes scrimp on food in order to up their profit margins. If you want to change public perception on your nursing home, then your fare at meal times need to change.

There’s a huge opportunity for improvement in the quality, number of choices, and presentation of food in nursing homes, and to positively affect resident satisfaction with meals. A good start is to increase the food rotation schedule to at least a four-week rotation.

Residents also appreciate having their hot food hot and their cold food cold. Restaurant-style service, where residents are offered options while sitting at their tables, is as popular as the flowers decorating said tables.

It may be a fact that some residents that have problems with swallowing need texturized meals and some others are on a saltless diet, but you need not subject all residents to this type of diet. Take the effort to make separate meals so you can appeal to those that have no diet restrictions.

Again, presentation matters a lot. You need to look for way to improve in this area so as to attract more residents to your home.

  1. Quell nighttime disturbances

Quite a number of residents have complained about disturbances to their sleep at night. The main culprits for this are; TVs blaring into the wee hours, agitated neighbors, loud conversations between workers etc. If the residents of your nursing home don’t get quality sleep at night, they become agitated in the daytime.

You need to take steps to bring down night time disturbances to the barest minimum. There are several things you can do to alleviate this trend and they include; Implement a TV curfew and require night owl viewers to use headsets past the curfew.

Encourage night shift staff to report resident sleeplessness so sleep/wake cycle disturbances can be reversed and medications adjusted if necessary. As part of in-service training, address ways in which nightshift staff can communicate with each other to avoid disturbing sleeping residents.

Good sleep hygiene on an individual basis can reduce irritability, improve memory, and promote healing. Good sleep hygiene on a unit-wide basis is good customer service that can benefit the physical and mental health of residents and reduce conflict between residents (it’s hard to be friendly toward someone who’s kept you up all night).

  1. Encourage an active social life

All too often, a lot of seniors believe that they are all alone in nursing homes and there is no one to talk to around. This is indeed the perception of most residents and it is in fact not true. You duty will be to prove it to residents by helping them connect with their peers. The false impression that they’re alone in the nursing home is based on several factors such as:

  • New residents carry the prejudices of most people outside the nursing home, believing everyone inside is confused or too ill to carry on a conversation.
  • The tendency of people to believe they’re unique, when in fact there are many uniquely interesting people in nursing homes.
  • Nursing home “old-timers” who are more alert tend to leave their units to attend activities. When newbies arrive, they try sitting in the hall or in the day room and, finding the more confused residents, come to the conclusion that everyone is confused. Then they retreat to their rooms.
  • Because most residents are visibly physically disabled, people often incorrectly assume they’re cognitively disabled as well.

There are a number of techniques you can use to connect residents to each other and they include:

  • Introducing new residents to others with similar interests;
  • Encouraging them to attend activities before they settle into spending their days alone in their rooms;
  • Recognizing strengths and sharing them with others in the community. (For example, a new resident agreeing to be interviewed for a feature story in a nursing home newsletter.); and
  • Helping residents establish a welcome committee.

At a nursing home, there are always social activities on the schedule, encouraging the participation and socialization of all residents.

This gives seniors the chance to meet other residents within their same age range, keep up a more active lifestyle and become a member of the community. And the best part is that all activities are conducted under the supervision of the qualified healthcare professionals at the nursing home.

  1. Make good use of technology

The world is changing. Our population is aging, and technology is advancing. Yet nursing homes seem to be behind the times in combining personal care and technology. The reasons for this can be; the need to keep already-high price tags as low as possible; preserving an at-home atmosphere for residents; and hesitation by nursing staff to rely on innovation.

But to keep your nursing home more efficient and ensure that residents get the best care, you may have to rely one way or the other on useful technology. For instance, you can install a technology that can help you track respiratory rate, heart rate and movement.

With monitor bells ringing frequently, over time, nurses can develop alarm fatigue. You can use technologies that can help relieve your nurses of this stress. With decent technology in place, it can help upgrade the status of your nursing home.