Living in a Nursing Home by S. Burger and M. D'Erasma, New York, Seabury Press.
Living in a Nursing Home should be on the must reading list of professionals and paraprofessionals working with the aged, particularly with the institutionalized.
The authors write in a concise, clear, and understandable form, and yet, still communicate complex issues and concepts to the reader. I am particularly pleased with the emphasis on resident rights, the need for open communication among family, staff, and residents, and the need for honesty among all parties concerned. Especially important is the emphasis placed on the humanness of all peoples, no matter their age and physical or cognitive condition. The chapter on legal rights is enlightening and provides valuable information for practitioners who counsel the aged and their families regarding preplacement procedures. The chapter is equally valid for meeting family concerns about wills, guardianship, being a trustee, etc, after placement is concluded.
One of the more difficult tasks to accomplish once admission has taken place is acquiring the ability to appropriately "negotiate the system." The authors provide objective yet sensitive clues on how to effectively relate to the various levels of staff in order to maintain quality of care for their relative.
Much of the information shared by the authors is based on common sense but is often overlooked or "forgotten" when staff is under the strain of providing consistent care to impaired aged. The text underscores the need for staff to pause and consider how to relate appropriately to new residents and their families in order that respect for privacy, opportunities for self-determination, and the provision of constructive outlets for maintaining manual/mental dexterity are not overlooked.
Living in a Nursing Home would be an extremely valuable tool for families and residents both before and following admission. It provides practical and comprehensive guidelines on selecting a nursing home, preparing a loved one to relocate, and increasing the quality of family visits and communication.
Much of the information in the text could be used for inservicing new personnel around the realities of caring for the impaired aged and working with their families. This might very well avoid future conflicts and tension between the home and its clientele.
An area that could have been described in more detail is that of the team concept and how the many departments within the home can work together in a collaborative manner. Housekeeping, dietary, and maintenance personnel all impact significantly on the quality of life provided the residents. These service personnel need to be involved in the planning of services and programs for residents and/or their families, as they often become "important or significant persons" to the residents, thereby impacting on the residents well-being and sense of self-worth.
Finally, I found the glossary of terms useful in understanding the "language" used among staff of nursing homes. This is a creative and helpful addition to the text, as are all the appendices.
I heartily recommend Living in a Nursing Home as a significant contribution to furthering the understanding of the important role nursing homes have to fulfill within the health care system.