Moving an elderly relative into a care home is never an easy decision to make. Transitioning from a home that someone has lived in for years to a completely new residence is hard, not only for family and friends, but most importantly, the individual. So how do you help them to adjust to their new surroundings?
Put yourself into their Shoes
Imagine how nervous you would feel about moving to an entirely new place. You won’t know anyone, you will be unfamiliar with your surroundings, and you will be expected to stay there for a very long time. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Chances are your elderly relative is feeling this way during their first few weeks in their new home. It’s important to treat them as you would like to be in this situation, and be there to listen to any concerns that they may have. After all, it isn’t their fault, and they may be feeling confused.
A Personal touch
Part of what makes a house a home is those little personal touches. Pictures, ornaments and other personal belongings are things that your relative may be very attached to, and something that their new accommodation will be lacking in. Try to make their room as familiar to them as possible by bringing some of their favourite mementos and souvenirs with you when you visit. You’ll be surprised at how much more a care home begins to feel like their home with a small selection of personal belongings. Find out about what the care home allows to be brought in, and be prepared to get rid of larger items like furniture if they cannot be moved in.
Let the staff know all about them
It’s really important that the care staff are aware of your relative’s unique needs. Whether these are health related, such as if they need help washing, or if they need to be taking certain medications – or if they are more personal, such as what they like to talk about or what they like to watch on television. Some things may seem trivial, but all of this helps the care staff to build up a bank of information on your relative which they can always refer back to. The result? Your relative will have a care plan that is tailored specifically to them. The earlier this groundwork can be put into place, the better, as an established routine will help your loved one to settle in much quicker.
Visiting during the First Few Weeks
It can be tough for someone to suddenly not be around family, especially if you lived with them. It’s important to show that you are still around and there to listen to your loved one just as much as you were before. The amount of times it is recommended that you visit during those first few weeks are entirely individual to you and your relative. Your relative may be pleased to see you and find your visits reassuring, but on the other hand could become angry, frustrated and upset when it transpires that you aren’t there to take them home. Work closely with the care staff to establish a visiting routine that leaves your relative feeling happy both with you and their new surroundings. It can take time for someone to adjust, and once they are totally settled in, you can visit on a regular basis without worrying. Seeing a familiar face will bring a smile to their face, and to yours too.
You’ll get there
While it may seem like a process that will never become easy, once your elderly relative is settled in, things will become a lot easier. Now at you know what tips to put into practice, you will be able to make this transitions as smooth as possible, leaving your relative happy and comfortable, and you confident that you have made the correct decision.
Michael Hewstone is a Representative for Barton Park Nursing and Retirement Home, which provide elegant retirement living in Merseyside and Southport