Complaint #5: There’s no one here for me to talk to.
Untrue! But we need to prove it to residents by helping them connect with their peers.
The false impression they’re alone in the nursing home is based on several factors:
- New residents carry the prejudices of most people outside the nursing home, believing everyone inside is confused or too ill to carry on a conversation.
- The tendency of people to believe they’re unique, when in fact there are many uniquely interesting people in nursing homes. I know. I’ve spoken to them.
- Nursing home “old-timers” who are more alert tend to leave their units to attend activities. When newbies arrive, they try sitting in the hall or in the day room and, finding the more confused residents, they come to the conclusion that everyone is confused and then retreat to their rooms.
- Because most residents are visibly physically disabled, people often incorrectly assume they’re cognitively disabled as well.
Techniques for Family Members to connect residents include:
- Attending activities with loved ones and talking with other residents/families there.
- Asking nursing, recreation, and social work staff about other residents with interests similar to your loved one and helping to facilitate conversations about commonalities.
- Asking recreation, dietary, or nursing staff to seat your loved one near their friends during meals and activities if your loved one is unable to ambulate on their own.
Techniques for Staff Members to connect residents include:
- Introducing new residents to others with similar interests.
- Encouraging them to attend activities before they settle into spending their days alone in their rooms.
- Recognizing strengths and sharing them with others in the community. For example, a new resident agreed to be interviewed for a feature story in a nursing home newsletter.
- Helping residents establish a welcome committee.