“They added that the review should focus on long-term plans for the industry, rather than short-term solutions like introducing additional surveillance to ensure patients are treated properly” (Industry Weighs In On Nursing Home Review, Miss Elizabeth Soh).
In light of the recent controversy surrounding the Nightingale Nursing Home, and assorted opinions on the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) ongoing review – as expounded in the news report “Industry Weights In On Nursing Home Review (June 13, 2011) by Miss Elizabeth Soh – it appears that improvements to the status quo are desired. Quite interestingly, current suggestions offered by professionals, representatives or members of the public have been premised upon macro-management factors to be instituted by the government or the respective nursing homes: increasing surveillance, conducting checks and reviews anonymously, value-adding staff training and orientation et cetera. However, taking into account the roles and responsibilities of the families and relatives, it seems more imperative for heightened endeavours to be dedicated to the enhancement of relationships between nursing staff and the residents’ kin.
Having the working and nursing employees communicate with the families or relatives on a frequent and honest basis is extremely important; the employed personnel have professional commitments, while the latter has the obligation to continue caring – and engaging – their kith and kin residing in the homes. Having closer relationships would certainly be beneficial for the homes’ residents, because the family members would be able to share more about resident characteristics, preferences and habits with the nursing staff. In turn, the staff members – as primary caregivers – can thereby develop more intimate friendships with their patients, and be better-prepared when interacting with more challenging or demanding individuals. Subtly, family members can be emotionally encouraged to make for vis-à-vis visits, and provide more support tangibly.
The aforementioned can be facilitated through a number of methodologies.
First, orientation and training pedagogies for nursing staff can be customised to mentally prepare them for their day-to-day activities, become more sensitive to patient needs, and guiding them how to converse with family representatives. It is also important to consistently make the staff feel encouraged, motivated, and have strong sense of belonging or responsibility. Second, staff-family meetings can be organised on a regular basis to promote dialogues between the stakeholders, and to familiarise the family members with the home surroundings and update the resident’s conditions. Third, internal feedback channels should be proliferated for the patients, families and caregivers so that complaints or constructive criticisms can be processed healthily.
Nursing homes and family members cannot afford to relish in the comforts of conservatism; the unfortunate event, while thankfully an exception rather than the norm, has shown why more preventative measures and safeguards must be speedily put in place.