Positive Problem Solving
Nancy Carman, MA, CMC
done your homework and taken the time to make sure that you’ve
made the best assisted living residence or nursing home match for
your loved one. Now, if you make the effort
to develop a positive working relationship with the staff that provides
care to your loved one, you’re more likely to get their cooperation
when a problem arises.
your loved one first moves into an assisted living residence or nursing
home, your role in helping the staff get
to know your family
member is an important one. Sharing with staff what makes for a “good
day” for your loved one is also helpful. Who better to share
their daily schedule and the things that bring them satisfaction
and pleasure than you? No detail is too small, if it’s important
to your relative.
communication with the staff of the assisted living residence or
nursing home is fundamental to getting good care
for a loved one.
Try to visit different days of the week and different times of
day. This will allow you the opportunity to meet most of your loved
caregivers and to develop a rapport with them.
Remember to voice your appreciation to staff members when you see
them providing good care. A written note of appreciation to the
specific staff person, copied to the executive director or facility
can make a world of difference.
an issue arise, such as repeated complaints by your loved one about
the food, poor care from a staff
person or roommate problems
in a nursing home, it is important to speak up. First and foremost,
make sure that you have accurate, documented information. The
first person you might want to speak with is the nurse supervisor.
there is no resolution of the problem, you may find it helpful
the social worker at the residence.
Homes are required to periodically hold care planning meetings for
each resident. A
team of staff members discusses
needs and any changes that should be made in their care. It
is important that you and your loved one participate in this
and voice your
the facility administrator or executive director is your next stop.
Again, present your concern and
non-threatening manner. Be very clear about what has transpired,
whom you have talked to and what your expectations are. You
will find that
most of the time your concern will be addressed and remedied
at this level.
Resident Councils can also be a good source of support and insider
information. Typically members meet monthly
ways to communicate with staff when problems arise. You will
find them to be genuinely interested in maintaining and/or
improving the quality
of care for all residents. Many times, approaching a facility
or executive director with a group concern is another effective
way to bring about change.
can you do if you still feel that your loved one’s issue
hasn’t been resolved? Depending upon the facility,
the next step is to speak with a local agency. You can
contact your county Area Office
on Aging through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Eldercare
Locator web site http://eldercare.gov/
. The Area Office
on Aging can put you in touch with the appropriate agency
oversees that particular
facility for licensure and/or certification. Again, make
sure that you have accurately documented your loved one’s
grievance and the steps that you have taken within the
facility to try and resolve
your loved one’s grievance is with
a nursing home and you feel that the issue has not been
remedied by anyone on staff, nursing
home residents have access to an ombudsman. A Nursing
Home Ombudsman is a consumer advocate who will investigate the
situation and attempt
to resolve the resident’s complaint. Each county
has a Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s office. The Area
Office on Aging will be able to provide you with the
phone number of your local ombudsman.
Carman is a gerontologist, Certified Geriatric
Manager, and advisor to MyGuide for Seniors. Read
more of Ms. Carman’s Aging Successfully
series at www.myguideforseniors.com