More on "Water for Elephants" & Nursing Homes
In my last post on Sara Gruen's book "Water for Elephants," I discussed the book's main character, 93-year-old Jacob, who lives in a long-term care facility.
In the chapter where Jacob recounts his family's decision to send him to the facility, he says the dialogue between him and his children went like this: "It's not a nursing home, they said. It's assisted living-progressive, you see. You'll only have help for the things you need and then when you get older... they always trailed off there."
Jacob's reassurance from his children that "it's not a nursing home" raises some interesting questions about the public's perception of nursing homes. Does the public, in general, still regard nursing homes as cold and imposing institutions? By and large, do consumers assume that nursing home care is inadequate?
If they do, it's not surprising. A quick Yahoo! news search on the words "nursing home" yields some scary headlines about horrible things happening in nursing homes in different corners of the country. A nursing home operator in Hartford, Conn., is under investigation over reports of poor patient care. Moving further south, a former nursing home employee in Beaufort, S.C., is accused of tossing an 89-year-old woman out into the hallway. Then, out west, you have the state of New Mexico filing criminal charges against a nursing home operator in relation to a patient's death.
But there are plenty of nursing homes who are doing it right, and we've published volumes to prove it. We've written about the findings of programs like Better Jobs Better Care and we've told the stories of countless nursing homes who are taking many steps to deinstitutionalize and offer more person-centered care. So what can we do to better get the word out about the nursing home staff who are doing their best to enhance resident care? If you have suggestions, we're all ears.