With the rise of skilled nursing facilities (commonly known as nursing homes), it is important to clear up certain misconceptions about them and how they differ from conventional old-folks’ homes.
“Don’t put your parents in an old-folks’ home!”
“It is our responsibility as children to take care of our elderly parents!”
“If you put your parents in an old-folks’ home, your children will put you in an old-folks’ home too someday!”
Sounds familiar? These are comments that people would often give when they hear a child deciding to place their parents in an old-folks’ home, and it is perfectly understandable why such reactions exist.
Growing up in East Asian families, we are taught about filial piety, which simply means to be good to our parents; to take care of them and engage in good conduct towards them. It is assumed that by sending our elderly parents to receive care out of their homes, we, as children, are irresponsible and negligent of the wellbeing of our parents.
However, this is far from the truth in the present era.
In the recent few years, skilled nursing homes in Malaysia are on the rise, offering senior citizens with professional care and conducive environments catering to their health, wellbeing and recovery progress. Such elderly care centres are very much different from conventional old-folks’ homes, hence it is crucial for us as a society to educate ourselves on their functions and contributions towards the community.
Doing so will not only put a stop to the flawed stigma towards nursing homes, it can also help us make better decisions when it comes to seeking care for our elderly loved ones.
With that in mind, here are 5 common misconceptions most people have towards nursing homes.
1. Nursing homes are for sick elderly people only
At first glance, we would assume nursing homes are only suited for elderly people who are ill or disabled. Certainly, seniors who require medical attention would very much require services from skilled nursing facilities like nursing homes, but such facilities can also cater towards seniors who are physically fit as well.
Many cases of injuries or even death among seniors are simply caused by the lack of supervision. As they age, it becomes increasingly risky for seniors to be alone without sufficient care. In this busy generation, families are often away from home for work or daily routines, leaving the elderly alone at home, which can be hazardous towards them.
On the other hand, nursing homes (can also be known as elderly care centres) exist to provide such care and supervision for the elderly. In most cases, accidents can be prevented just by having someone looking after the elderly, and demonstrating immediate response in the midst of an unforeseen situation.
Skilled nursing facilities like Jasper Lodge Care Centres are equipped with 24-hour nurses who are ready to attend to any form of situation. In the case of a medical emergency, nurses can also come in contact with dedicated doctors who manage each centre.
Hence, nursing homes are not only for the sick elderly, but can be a care solution for healthy seniors as well.
2. Nursing homes employ foreign caregivers to look after the residents
Well, we cannot say this statement is 100 percent false, because employees in different nursing homes vary from one to the other. However, we are always entitled to ask questions prior to admitting our elderly loved ones into a nursing home.
Find out whether a nursing home hires foreign caregivers to look after the residents, or employs local, trained and licensed nurses instead. This is essential because while nursing homes that hire caregivers may cost a little cheaper, said caregivers are often not professionally trained and licensed by the Malaysian Nursing Board.
The dangers? Untrained caregivers are not groomed to attend to medical situations, and are not qualified to carry out nursing procedures. Oftentimes during a medical emergency, these caregivers would not know what to do but to admit the patient into a hospital, and their family will have to bear the additional cost.
Skilled nursing facilities like Jasper Lodge, however, only employs trained and qualified nurses and physiotherapists in their centres. During minor medical situations, nurses are able to carry out nursing procedures right at the centre without having to admit the patient to a hospital. Such procedures may include wound dressing, injections, tube feeding and so on.
Of course, nurses at nursing homes not only perform nursing procedures, but also carries out day-to-day care such as feeding, bathing and even conducting activities for the residents.
3. Seniors tend to develop depression in nursing homes
This is yet another common misconception towards nursing homes. We often assume this is true as we hear about such cases happening in poorly managed old-folks’ homes. Depression does not come without reason.
Common factors that contribute towards depression among the elderly include health problems, isolation, as well as being mistreated. Though these factors may exist in non-professional old-folks’ homes, skilled nursing facilities, on the other hand, offer a multitude of solutions to prevent its elderly residents from falling into depression.
Health problems such as illnesses, disabilities, chronic or severe pain, cognitive decline and so on are well-managed by doctors and nurses in a skilled nursing home. Optimization and accurate administration of medication, as well as the tender, loving care and support provided by nursing homes help seniors retain good health and avoid depression.
In terms of isolation, sometimes seniors are even more prone towards developing depression if they are left alone at home while family members are out and about. At nursing homes, seniors are surrounded by residents of similar age, hence are able to accompany one another. Fun and interactive activities are conducted too to encourage communication among the residents and keep them socially active.
Mistreatment or abuse towards the elderly is also strongly prohibited in professional nursing homes. As mentioned above, nursing homes employ trained professionals to look after the elderly, and strict actions are taken towards anyone who mistreats the residents. You might opt to hire a maid to care for your elderly parents at home, but who knows how would the maid treat them?
4. Seniors are at risk of abuse at nursing homes
One issue that has been repeated over and over again in this article is the risk of seniors having to suffer from abuse in nursing homes. This is not only a misconception, but it is also an unfair judgement towards nursing homes, as abuse can happen anywhere, even within our own homes.
Nevertheless, nursing homes such as Jasper Lodge are overseen by doctors and will never allow abusive behaviour within the centres, be it from the staff towards the residents, or vice versa. Within a controlled environment like a professional nursing home, there are supervisors and even peers looking out for one another, ensuring proper conduct of the staff at all times.
Some nursing homes are even equipped with monitoring cameras, but will only be used when there is any suspicion of misconduct. This offers peace of mind for family members, and cases can be investigated justly if necessary.
Needless to say, stern actions will be taken against individuals who carry out abusive conduct within professional nursing centres. In severe cases, the party involved will usually be terminated on the spot.
5. Living conditions are terrible at nursing homes
Yet again, such misconception exists as we are often confused between old-folks’ homes and nursing homes. Why assume when you can see for yourself?
Conventional old-folks’ homes are usually managed by non-professionals, and only serve the purpose of providing seniors who are not cared for a place to stay. Such venues are usually poorly maintained; hence we see poor living conditions at these places.
On the other hand, professional nursing homes are managed by healthcare professionals who are well-aware of the importance of hygiene and the type of conducive environment for seniors to live in.
Always visit a nursing home before admitting your elderly loved one into one. Elderly care centres like Jasper Lodge are always opened for family members to come and have a look for yourself before making a decision.
Written by: Jerrie Lim