Deciding to put your loved one in an assisted care facility is one of the hardest things that we could imagine. None of us want to think that we are incapable of caring for the people that have loved us throughout our lives. But when that time comes we put our faith in institutions that promise to support our loved ones as much as we do.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight back on the assisted care facilities and how they service their patrons. Studies show that 94% of nursing homes have been cited for a health violation. 17% of these violations have caused actual harm or in some cases have been fatal.
Such cases may prompt concerns and potentially anger in the people that trust assisted care facilities for their loved ones. However, the reliance on nursing homes is not waning which could be the reason they seem to “get away” with these abhorrent infractions. 70% of people aged 65 or older have an increased risk of needed assisted care.
While it may seem unfair to those that depend on these facilities, there is a reason that nursing homes tend to get a bad reputation: budget. With the majority of the population either needing or depending on the services provided by nursing homes, the budget just simply doesn’t match. In a period of nine years spanning from 1999 to 2008 over 50% of hospital based assisted care facilities closed due to budget.
This is in conjunction with the combined 21% of freestanding and rural based facilities that also closed down within this period. While budget is a main contributor to discrepancies in care, there are other factors that can contribute to the disparity that is often found in care facilities.
In 2020, there was continued pressure and emphasis on nursing homes when families could not visit or oversee the care of their family members due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Factors that contributed to skepticism were lack of census, recreation and the physical design. While these were the more serious infractions, other factors such as high overhead costs, lack of reimbursement from residents on Medicaid, and biohazard safety breaches have contributed to closures and criticism.
In order to correct a lot of these issues with nursing homes, we must first consider something that is often overlooked: design and layout. A basic nursing home has a variety of different design features that must be included in order for it to function properly. These include patient rooms, functioning lobby spaces, both private and public restrooms, rooms for staff, and food preparation areas.
These basic design elements are crucial to the success of a nursing home but often fail when they are not designed with safety in mind. You cannot simply design an assisted care space with the same elements of a regular house because nursing homes require a different purpose and utilization of the space.
Recently, there has been a rise in growing demand for these spaces to be adaptable to varying needs of today’s patient. These needs are custodial, in-home, dietary, recreational and rehabilitation.
Custodial needs consist of the basic needs that we must sustain to survive. These include feeding, medicine administration, clothing, and bathing among others. One of the hardest decisions that have to be made in the process of determining assisted care is if your loved one should leave their home. This is one there has recently been an increase in demand for in-home care and treatment.
Dietary needs extend beyond your basic three meals a day. In an assisted care setting dietary needs must not only meet nutrition guidelines, but also be unique and comforting to the patients. Recreational needs are integral for a successful nursing home because they promote longevity and invoke the patients mental capacity during their stay. Finally, rehabilitation needs are vital in an assisted care setting because they help patients literally and figuratively get back on their feet.
In order to achieve the “perfect” modern nursing home there are only three factors that need to be considered. These include adaptadible appliances and technology, high quality and cost effective flooring options, and cutting edge care and quality staff who are willing to meet the needs of the patients.
When it comes to appliances and technology, the thoughtful integration into the nursing home setting can have lasting impacts of quality of care. These can directly benefit things like therapy types, medications, and recreational options to the patrons of assisted living facilities.
However, one of the most important things to consider in the modern nursing home is flooring choices. While it may seem trivial, the choice of flooring can make a difference to the standard of care that an individual receives from an assisted care facility.
Whether the choice is between hardwood or carpet, flooring can determine the success of a nursing home. Finding affordable and high quality flooring is an integral part in creating a safe and comfortable nursing home environment.
These factors are ones that must be considered in the crafting decisions of the modern nursing home, but it is also important to consider your audience. No one voluntarily moves into an assisted living facility. It is typically a family decision that is made or one that is provided by medical professions. It is very hard to leave your home that was full of memories and experiences and move to a brand new place.
This is why it is increasingly important that we emphasize the inclusion of key design elements for the sole purpose of making assisted care facilities a patient’s home and not just a place where they sleep.
Even though nursing homes have a bad reputation now, it is important that we start to consider incorporating some of these themes back into the care environment. Our dependence upon services like these does not mean that we have to let them run as they will without consequences. By calling in question some of these practices, we can ensure a higher standard of care.