Making the decision to place your loved one in a Nursing Home can be very stressful. You may feel guilty about the decision, but you may also feel like you have no other choice. For persons suffering from difficult diseases which require 24-hour care, it can be necessary. There is no shame in making this decision if it is your best or only option for your loved one.
In the Caribbean, Nursing Homes are a recent trend. With the increase of older persons across the region, they have been popping up to fill the need for elder care. However, it's happened very quickly and Caribbean governments have not yet implemented policies to govern nursing homes. This means that they are widely unregulated and unfortunately, many are not appropriate or well-run.
For example. in Trinidad, there is no legal requirement for homes to provide a certain number of staff to patients. There is also no legal requirement that Nursing Home Staff have adequate qualifications. It is therefore very important to do your own research when choosing a home. The guidelines below are meant to help you make the best decision available to you and have been adapted from a UK organisation, Unforgettable.org.
But bear in mind that the Caribbean still has a long way to go in providing formal, holsitic care for older persons. You are unlikely to find an ideal, affordable care home but you can find a home that is appropriate and well suited to your loved one.
'...they are widely unregulated and unfortunately, many are not appropriate or well-run. It is therefore very important to do your own research when choosing a home'
Visit more than one home
Treat each visit as if you’re shopping around for a new house and choosing a good school for your children – at the same time. You're not only looking for a sturdy, safe building and convenient location, but for warm, qualified, caring staff to look after someone you love and who may, in many respects, be as vulnerable as a child.
Questions to ask the manager/staff:
'If the manager hesitates, is unable to provide first and last names, or clear roles for staff, this is a sign of a home with an inadequate care team...'
Before making a decision:
• If possible, take the person, especially if thay have dementia, to see the home before hand. Ask any other friends or relatives, whose opinion you’d value, to visit, too.
• Drop in again – this time unannounced and at a different time of day if possible. Staff should still welcome you if they have nothing to hide.
After making your decision:
Understand that moving your loved one to a care home can be a difficult transition at first. They will need time to adjust and settle in. Once you choose a home, try to work with staff to ensure that your loved one is comfortable as far as possible. Your job as a loving caregiver to your relative does not end when you place them in a home. Instead, you are now part of a bigger team to help care for your ageing relative.
Dr James Bratt, Lead Consultant at Age Caribbean and Geriatric Psychicatrist.