It seems like an easy decision, doesn’t it? Frail, incontinent, confused elderly person = nursing home placement. However, what seems obvious to you is seldom as obvious to the family. For one thing, they might not see the patient’s needs as clearly as you do, so sitting down and having an honest talk with the family about what the patient needs and why is a good place to start.
The family may also be in denial. Accepting the idea that the one who cared for you now needs the care of others is never an easy thing. It’s even harder for a family to accept—or admit—that the necessary care may be more than they can provide.
Proceed with compassion. Recognize and understand that the family is confused, overwhelmed and scared. Take the time to answer their questions and provide emotional support. Treat their loved one with care and concern. And link them with a case manager or social worker who can help them contact and tour local nursing homes.
Remember, they’re being asked to make a life-altering decision in a time of stress. They probably don’t understand a lot of the words swirling around them, and the idea of entrusting their mom, dad, husband or wife to strangers may terrify them. Your patience and understanding may be just what they need.
For more Career Advice for Nurses pick up the latest issue of Scrubs magazine, available at a retail store near you!