Image by Wisconsin Historical Images via Flickr
In my years of employment in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, I found it helpful to include discussions related to events in the community. With back to school fliers filling the paper, and children once again returning to school, this is a timely discussions to which you can tie many themed activities. And in my experience it is one that often elicited a strong response. Whether you work in a facility or visit family members or friends living in a facility, here are some conversation ideas and a few songs to spark up your visits.
- What were our favorite subjects in school?
- How many rooms/grades levels did you school have? (Many older adults in rural areas attended one or two room schools and maybe had 20 students in first through seventh grade.)
- What were your favorite games at recess?
- How far did you travel/walk to get to school?
- Did you ever give an apple to your teacher?
- Did you ever get picked to help clean the chalkboard erasers in your class? Was it a privilege or a punishment?
If people have memory issues try some of these props to help get conversations going: ruler, lined paper, Big Chef notebook, small chalk board with chalk, crayons,
Songs to sing together:
If children are visiting, include: The Alphabet Song, School House Rock songs (people with children currently in their 50’s or younger may remember these from Saturday morning TV.)
What would you add to these lists?
Image via Wikipedia
One of my favorite songs from the musical “The Wiz” is “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News”. There are times our media seems filled with bad news. One of the joys of living in a small community is a paper which carries some good news. The Wednesday, August 10, 2011 Hays Daily News carried a good news article that caught my eye: “Nursing homes recognized for culture change”. While I was unable to pull up the article online, I was able to locate the information on Kansas Department of Aging website.
The following seven facilities are being recognized for Promoting Excellent Alternatives in Kansas (PEAK):
- Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor, Arkansas City
- Medicalodges Gardner, Gardner
- Schowalter Villa, Hesston
- Pleasant View Home, Inman
- Asbury Park, Newton
- Newton Presbyterian Manor, Newton
- Brookside Retirement Community, Overbrook
Why is this important? Here are several reasons:
- Nursing homes often receive a bad rap. Reports of neglect and abuse in a nursing home receive lots of press. The loving care that people receive gets little press. Not all nursing homes are good. Not all facilities are bad.
- Nursing homes can be a positive in the lives of those they serve. Some people enjoy having assistance 24 hours a day, someone preparing meals, cleaning, contacting doctors. Some people like having others around for conversation.
- Nursing homes have changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Much has been learned about safe, comfortable care. Regulations have changed. Things are as hone like as possible.
Having worked many years in nursing homes I have a few suggestions:
- Start looking at facilities in your area long before you need them. One good way to look is to take part in community events they host. And, volunteering for a special event or on a regular basis can also provide insights.
- Look at State survey results. Realize that some citations are major risks while others are not.
- Observe how the staff and the residents interact.
- Observe how the mood of the facility. Each facility has its own feel, its own atmosphere. We all vary in what defines our best atmosphere.
- Find out about meals and food policies. Food is a major point of discussion. We all grew up seasoning our food in different ways, cooking items in various combinations. It is difficult to create a menu that fits every diet and pleases every palate. Facilities do their best. Again, see what is the best fit.
- Learn about the activity programming. Every program has its strengths and weaknesses. Again, there is an effort to balance interests and needs. Look for programs that provide a range of programs addressing various needs.
Now, here’s a secret thing to do: listen. No really listen. Listen to the tone of voice people use. Listen for noise levels. Listen to the music you hear playing – is it appropriate to the residents, the staff, or both? Listen.
What do you think are the marks of a good nursing facility? Please share them in the comments.