Taking a loved one home for the holidays

The holiday season is a time for family and friends to connect and share experiences. When a loved one is living in a long-term care facility, it is important to make them feel like they are still an integral part of the family and that they have not been forgotten. One of the best ways to strengthen the connection with a loved one in a nursing home is to arrange to bring them home for a short visit. Residents can gain a psycho-social benefit from spending time outside of the facility and having time with family and friends. However, to have a successful visit, it’s important to be prepared and have the right information about your loved ones’ needs. The following are some tips to help a visit home go smoothly:

Remember it’s their visit
As exciting as it is to have a loved one at home, it’s important to remember to include them in making decisions for themselves as much as possible, such as how long to visit, when to lie down, and what activities they feel like doing. In their nursing home, they have developed their own schedule and familiar routine. Sometimes they can have a difficult time adjusting to the change in environment and schedule. If your loved one becomes tired or wants to cut the visit short, don’t make them feel guilty.

How long can they stay?
The length of a visit depends on several factors, including rules concerning the source of payment for a resident’s long-term care residency. Private pay residents can stay for as many days as they like for a visit. Medicaid recipients in long term care can leave their facility for up to a three-night stay twice per quarter.. However, they can leave for no more than six nights per quarter and no more than three nights per therapeutic leave. Residents that are staying in a facility on a short-term basis aren’t allowed out for recreational visits except in very special circumstances.

Getting them home
We encourage families to provide their own transportation, if the resident is able to transfer in and out of a vehicle. In the event that wheelchair van service is needed, this can be arranged with a local provider and there is a charge for this service.

What about meals?
Skilled nursing facilities, such as ours, hold regular care plan meetings with family members or guardians. The meetings are helpful to keep them abreast of the resident’s physical and mental condition as well as get information about their diet and eating habits. If you don’t attend these meetings before taking a loved one home, you can ask if there are any special dietary requirements or safety precautions for the resident.

Residents with special needs
Sometimes a resident may have special medical needs that require the attention of a professional. In order for them to visit, the services of a privately-paid home health service could be employed. If this is not option, the resident could be brought home for a few hours instead of an overnight visit.

When they can’t visit
Sometimes, due to illness or other circumstances, it may be unwise to bring a loved one home for the holidays, even for a short visit. For example, it may be safer for the resident to stay in their facility if there is illness in the home they are visiting or a small child or other family member prone to illness. Exposure to sickness during a visit could be dangerous for an elderly resident and is best to be avoided.   As disappointing as it may seem to not have a loved one nearby for this special season, this is an opportunity to bring the celebration and family fun to the resident. Our facility has space available for reservation for family gatherings. Families and other loved ones are also encouraged to take part in celebrations held at the facility. Also, you can always help your special resident celebrate the season by sending a holiday-themed E-Card.

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