Considerations for Patient Care During the Holidays

Holidays are best spent with friends and family. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to be with their loved ones, especially those in nursing homes.

For people living in a nursing care facility, the joyousness and festivity of the season is often dampened by their circumstances. Illness, old age, impaired mobility, and depression may be compounded by the sadness of not being at home.

But nurses and caregivers can help. By making an effort to uplift the spirits of the patients in their charge and providing extra care and attention, nursing home staff can help lighten the mood.

Of course, any effort to cheer up the residents should be made with their safety and well-being in mind. While nursing home insurance offers some protection against potential risks and liabilities, nursing staff should still focus on patient welfare above all else.

Here are some tips for caring for senior nursing home residents during the holiday season and helping them deal with the doldrums:

  1. Encourage positive reminiscence. Nursing care staff members that have built up a rapport with patients in their care may engage them in conversation and encourage them to reminisce about good times.

    Admittedly, this can be a sensitive matter, as some residents may not be willing to discuss such personal issues with their caregivers. Others may be saddened or dejected when they compare their previous lives to where they are now.

    But some patients may be eager to share happy memories, especially during the holidays. Caregivers and nurses may encourage patients willing to share some details about their past. Of course, this should be done respectfully and appropriately, and care should be taken not to be overly inquisitive or pushy about sensitive or painful issues.
  1. Schedule movie nights. Everyone loves a good film, and movie nights are a great way to spend some time socializing during the holidays. Many nursing care facilities already have weekly movie nights, but staff can make them extra special by choosing films that have a holiday theme. These could even be incorporated with a movie trivia game before or after the film showing to add extra fun and enhance the community spirit.

    Nursing home staff should consider the group’s sensibilities at large when choosing movies. It is probably best to avoid anything too violent or racy or films that deal with gloomy, depressing, or tragic subject matters.
  1. Assist them in reaching out to friends and family. What better way to spend the holidays conversing with friends and family? While this may not be possible for everyone due to logistics and mobility concerns, the next best thing would be to talk to family on the phone or via the internet.

    Video calls are especially welcome, and it gives patients a chance to see the loved ones they miss so much. And if several family members join in the conversation, it’s almost as if they were at home with them.

    Keep in mind that many elderly adults will not be able to manage the video calls independently. It would be best to assign someone from the nursing staff to assist them. Video calls can be scheduled to accommodate everyone to spread some of the joy around.
  1. Give token gifts. Giving gifts to patients can be tricky and is usually not allowed under the facility’s rules and regulations. However, they may be permitted if the facility administrator or manager approves it or is done as part of an officially-approved gift-giving program. Nurses who wish to give their patients a little something to bring some holiday cheer should consult with their supervisor or suggest such a program.

    Gifts don’t have to be expensive. For many nursing home residents, it is the thought that someone took the time to remember them that counts. A pillowcase or a set of hand towels might just be the thing to cheer patients up, particularly if they are accompanied by a personal handwritten greeting.

Ultimately, caring for senior nursing home residents during the holidays involves giving them the same care and attention they require throughout the year, with added compassion and concern.

As friendly and accommodating as the nursing home environment may be, it won’t take the place of being at home with family members and loved ones. By taking these extra steps and acknowledging the added difficulties that the season may bring, nursing care staff can hopefully help their patients enjoy the holidays.

About Caitlin Morgan

Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.