“There’s no one here for me to talk to”. Combatting loneliness in nursing homes.

Category: Opinion

By: Jude Carter

Long-term Care Living reports on the top complaints among nursing home residents. Number 5 was not having anyone to talk to. New residents often feel that all the other residents are too sick or confused to carry on a conversation. If they don’t take part in activities, they tend to retreat to their rooms, creating more isolation. Everyone would love to have more visitors. And then of course there is the staff.

The unwritten part of any job description for nursing home workers is that they will take the time to chat with residents and get to know them. After all, treating them like people, not patients, is a huge part of delivering compassionate care.

We work with nursing homes all across the country helping to improve workplace communication for both staff and residents. We’ve seen some innovative approaches for introducing, recognizing, and celebrating residents. As part of our workplace communication programs, subscribers can order custom posters. Using them to bring residents’ stories and photos to light is a great way for residents and staff to make connections.

Here are some examples:
· Creating a welcome poster for either a new resident (or employee) with their picture and a brief message about them. Post it in a lobby stand for all to see…staff, other residents, families and visitors.
· Launching a Resident of the Month program with a photo and more comprehensive story. This makes it easy for residents to see what they might have in common…hometown, occupation, school, etc. Placing it in a frame or lobby stand in a high traffic area will encourage conversation.
· Colorful announcements about upcoming activities, and photo displays that document the good times are great ways for new residents (and their families) to see that there’s a lot going on. And that means opportunity to meet new people…and have someone to talk to!

What are you doing to encourage conversation among residents and staff in your facility?

Sharon Toelle
October 8, 2010

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