Admission into an aged care home can bring up many emotions. The first day in an aged care home can often be taken up with practical matters that leave family feeling exhausted and emotional.
If you can, take the day off and arrange for someone to be with you when you go home. On admission, plan to spend some time with a loved one, ask the aged care home if you can have a meal at the aged care home or spend some time with a loved one arranging their room.
Most people find the move into an aged care home tiring. If a loved one has come from hospital they may be happy to rest quietly in their room. Admission can in some cases happen very quickly. This can make carers feel overwhelmed and guilty. Having other family members and friends around you at this time can help with feelings of loss and grief.
Make sure a hospital has contact numbers for family and ask them to contact you if a loved one is being transferred to an aged care home so you can accompany them.
Being prepared for the move and handling all the practical tasks in advance will free you up to support a loved one on the first day.
Nursing home staff will want to know all they can about your family member. A registered nurse will normally take some time to talk with you and your family member on admission. Be prepared to answer questions about:
• A person’s medical history
• Names and contact details of enduring power of attorney and enduring guardianship
• Details of health funds / Medicare
• Names and phone numbers of vision, hearing and dental professionals
• Allergies to food and medications
• Special dietary requirements
• Likes and dislikes
• Preferences for showering and bathing
• Incontinence problems
• Need for lifting equipment/walking frames
• Funeral arrangements and terminal care options
• Choice of doctor
• Previous pharmacy details
After all the paper has been attended try to spend some time with your loved one at the aged care home.
Arranging the room together and figuring out where everything is can be helpful. If you can take a walk about the aged care home and orientate your family member to the location of the dining room, toilets, nurses station and communal lounge rooms.
Show your family member how to get nursing assistance. Make sure the call bell is in an easy to reach place and encourage a family member to use it before you leave.
Taking time out to talk with other residents and staff members are ways you can help someone adapt to a new environment.
Let the nurses know as much as you can about a family member’s usual routine, likes and dislikes. Writing out a mini care plan is a useful resource for a personal care assistant.
The move into a nursing home can be disruptive and unsettling for people with dementia. Be prepared for a person to ask when am I going home? Why am I here?
Sometimes family members can say hurtful things that will make you feel guilty. Try not to react as you will also be feeling very vulnerable.
Most people settle in to nursing home care after a few weeks. Talk to staff about your family member if you have any concerns.
If you can’t cope seeing someone in an aged care home try ringing daily. Offer support and understanding but concentrate on the positives of the move.
If a person has dementia, ask the aged care home for advice. They may suggest you visit in a few days to allow your family member time to settle in or visit more regularly to help the person ease into the move.
Talk with residential care staff about your concerns and let them know how you are feeling. It may take a little while before a person settles in, discuss with staff the best approach.