A move to Assisted Living or Long Term Care is a positive opportunity for a resident and their family. Robin Garnett, Director of Health Services at Laclede Groves, an LSS Life Plan Community in Webster Groves, Missouri, has seen this with many families over her 11 years with Lutheran Senior Services. Every day, she and her team make sure residents have what they need to live life to the fullest. This includes everything from clinical and medical needs to housekeeping and social services. Here Garnett, who loves being able to help people in different ways, shares advice on how families can make this transition a smoother one for their loved one and for themselves.
What advice would you give to a family whose loved one is moving to Assisted Living?
RG: My first piece of advice is to ask questions and share information with the staff about your loved one’s preferences, habits, and any helpful history. This will help you to work with the staff to make sure you know that your loved one is receiving the best possible care. That’s what everyone wants. The more we know about a person before they move in, the better the transition is. Ask questions and share info so everyone is working toward the same goal.
If you have been the one providing care, it can be hard to step back and let someone else do that. It is a blessing that families trust us with the most important thing in their lives and we honor that.
We encourage families to make sure their loved one is involved and allow them to make as many decisions as possible. When working with Assisted Living residents the resident is usually the one driving the decision and making that choice. Even with a move to Memory Care Assisted Living, there are opportunities to involve your loved one as much as you can to help make the transition smoother.
What about someone whose loved one is moving to Long Term Care?
RG: Again, share as much as info possible and ask questions. Then get to know the people who are caring for your loved one. In Long Term Care, families work with the staff more than in Assisted Living. We have consistent care here at Laclede Groves so you can know who the Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) is caring for your loved one during day, or in the evening, and at night. Get to know these staff members as people so you can make connections and increase your level of communication with them.
We realize that not all family members are close by enough to stop in and have those face-to-face interactions with staff. In this case, don’t hesitate to call or email. Having an initial conversation with staff at the community about how to stay in touch with them will be helpful.
Make your loved one’s room as homelike as possible, bring in those personal touches, a quilt, and pictures. And bring their own pillow. Having spent my share of nights here I can tell you that having your pillow makes a difference!
How can family members best work with the nursing staff?
RG: Share preferences. Things that your loved one likes, doesn’t like, little quirks that everyone has. For example: Mom likes to watch Matlock every morning at 7 or dad was a baker he’ll be up at 3 a.m.
We all come to this knowing that we’ll need to work together. Staff wants to work with families to have this be a good experience. We know realize transition is hard, but if families are willing to work with us and give us the opportunity, we can show them how good we are.
Make sure you are comfortable with the answers and care your loved one receives, if there is an issue let us know immediately. We aren’t perfect, but we’re very good and we always want to be better. We can’t do better if we don’t know about it.
How can family members make the most of their visits with their loved ones in Assisted Living and Long Term Care?
RG: I strongly recommend taking advantage of amenities we have on campus. Take your loved one and visit other areas of campus. Go to the bistro and get a milkshake or go to the pub and have a drink, get out of the room and take a walk or sit in the sun together. Seeing something else is a great conversation starter. Having so many amenities at our communities is a blessing for everyone.
Any other advice for families going through transitions like this?
RG: People don’t acknowledge that there is a grieving process. This is a change and change always involves some grieving. This means your mom or dad or yourself has had a change in independence that requires some care. Family members need to acknowledge those feelings and know they can always talk to staff.
You can tell staff that you’re having a hard day. It’s ok to feel those things, acknowledge them, and reach out to staff and talk about it. Staff will support you through that. We’ve been on the other side so many times, but this is the family’s first time. Use your resources – us – to get through this. Even if the transition is positive and it often is, there’s still a bit of grieving. We get it and you are part of our family too.
Because when your loved one moves in you become part of our family, and you will always be part of our family.
If you are interested in receiving more information about LSS Life Plan Communities, visit the contact page.