There’s nursing homes and then there’s “nursing homes”. Nursing homes are temporary living facilities that offer skilled nursing care, rehabilitation, and therapy services. “Nursing homes” are decrepit labyrinths where the wallpaper has yellowed and cracked and spooks haunt the hallways. One of these is useful and a good place to stay; one of these is a fiction. Can you guess which?
Thinking that nursing homes are “nursing homes” is not uncommon, so you shouldn’t feel bad for thinking that way, but it’s important to recognize that it is a stereotype. The stereotype has been largely perpetuated by the media. Not to blame them for bad publicity, but talking to all the families that are enjoying their lives is less interesting than focusing on the 1 person struggling; all media strives to appeal to anger, fear, or sadness.
It’s true that there have been bad nursing homes in the past or incidents that should not have been overlooked, and that’s a battle fought daily in just about any industry. No case should be overlooked, so it’s important to bring those situations to the public’s attention so everyone can ensure that doesn’t happen again. However, the troublesome part is when people watch a news report on nursing homes and think that must apply to all homes and loved ones. Most people are content, if not overjoyed, with their living arrangements and especially in nursing homes.
So here are 5 ways nursing homes differ from “nursing homes”.
1. They’re Temporary
The stereotype would have you believe that this is your elder’s final destination. This is where they go to die. Not only is that morbid, but it could not be more wrong. Nursing homes are temporary living homes designed to get seniors back into their homes.
These facilities offer rehabilitation, therapy (physical, occupational, and verbal), and skilled nursing care (hence the name) to help seniors recover from a fall, a broken bone, a stroke, and so on. The reason they exist is because being an inpatient in a hospital would cost a fortune, but with skilled nursing homes, you can receive the highest level of care but at a much lower cost.
Ultimately, these homes are not intended to keep you, but help get you out the door.
2. Everyone is Drugged
This one usually isn’t even tied to elderly living, but rather One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Many people think of Jack Nicholson when they think of “nursing homes”. People are not drugged or catatonic.
Again, nurses want the residents to heal and staying drugged isn’t going to help. For elders trying to walk again, they need to be making progress every single day, they need to be eating, and they need to be growing independent. They cannot be spoon-fed forever and that wouldn’t motivate them.
3. The Staff Don’t Care
There’s a misconception that staff members don’t want to be there any more than the seniors do. But, to be frank, you don’t become a caregiver if you don’t care. Skilled nursing homes are inspected regularly and nurses must go to school to become licensed practitioners or registered nurses. There are background checks and drug tests, so no one is looking to take advantage of elders.
Plus, caregivers don’t get paid much, and when you consider how many non-paid hours they work, it’s clear that they don’t do it for the money, they do it because they care about elders.
4. The Food is Awful
This is almost always the first thing people think of when it comes to “nursing homes” which is the food is awful. First of all, diet is critical to recovery. You are what you eat and if you’re trying to heal a broken bone, you’re not going to be eating cardboard pizza and canned milk.
Nursing homes usually have trained chefs on hand and cater to any and all dietary restrictions. Some elders admit that the food in the nursing homes are better than the food they’ve eaten at home! That’s saying something.
5. They Look like Hospitals
Finally, there are those that fear nursing homes because they don’t want to live in a sterile environment, where the walls are white, the floors are tile, and the whole environment reeks of hand sanitizer.
Make no mistake, nursing homes are medical facilities, but they do not look like medical facilities. In fact, that’s part of the reason they kept the name “nursing homes”. All modern nursing homes have been built to look like “homes”. Each senior’s room is decorated to look like a model home, but more than that, seniors are encouraged to bring their own furniture (and even pets) to feel more comfortable – and of course, those belongings go back home with them when they complete their stay.
In the industry, we refer to nursing homes as skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), but not only has that name not caught on, it has a bit of a medical connotation to it with “facilities” and it’s why “nursing homes” is the phrase that has stuck around even if it comes with a negative stereotype.
It is important to be aware of stereotypes because it’s how we overcome them. And, by bringing them to the forefront, less adult children will simply move their parents into nursing homes and leave them there; now, people are more likely to check in and make sure they’re doing okay. That’s also why, for adult children who live out of state, we personally check in with elders we help move, just to make sure the housing is still to their liking.
If you’re looking for nursing homes in Everett, Tacoma, Seattle, Bellevue or anywhere along the West Coast, then contact our senior housing advisors. We’ll find the right home for your loved one the first time.