The following was published in today’s Vancouver Sun as the Letter of the Day to the editor in response to a story published on Feb. 11 about negative effects of shared rooms in B.C. care homes. The letter is written by Anne Macdonald from Pitt Meadows, a former employee in the continuing care sector.
Senior care defended
Shared room experience can alleviate loneliness of residents
I am disappointed in The Sun’s report. I worked in long-term care for years and have a different perspective on four- and two-bed units.
Privacy might be great, but it can also be lonesome. Some residents avoid mixing with other residents, miss an opportunity to bond with roommates, miss meeting other people with whom they have something in common, and resist the opportunity for group exercises, games, movies and other social activities developed by recreation therapists to promote social and physical wellness.
In multi-bed wards, anytime a staff member (nursing, physio, rec therapy, dietary, etc.) enters the room, all residents are seen. Anything amiss is dealt with, or reported. Family visiting one resident bond with all residents in the room. They recognize the other residents when out in the general part of the facility — dining rooms, recreational and activity rooms, yard and gardens — and acknowledge their presence.
Some residents are emotionally disturbed and strike out without obvious provocation. Those dementias are one reason care facilities exist. As nursing managers, we seek the help of our physicians and pharmacists, and also have access to Geriatric Mental Health Teams (specialized nurses and geriatric psychiatrists) who come to our aid with amazing results.
If all fails, there are in-patient assessment units that accept residents for a time, make recommendations, and either send them back or keep them in a higher level setting, such as Valley View.
Families need to work with the staff for a positive experience for their relative and the resident rather than take up the axe before they have an opportunity to see what the facility can do for them and their loved one.