Once you've made the decision to use residential care, everything else
should be easy, right? Not necessarily. While you may feel some
sense of relief in finding a facility, you will still need to
prepare emotionally and in practical terms for the move itself and
your loved one's transition to a new living arrangement.
Show support and reassurance
The most difficult part of moving may not be the packing or
transportation. It's likely to be the emotional preparation for
your loved one and the family. Leaving the comfort of home, the
company of family and losing independence are
emotionally-charged issues. Reassure your loved one that He/She
will not be abandoned and that He/She is still loved. Make sure
He/She knows that cherished pets or plants that cannot go along
will be well cared for. Allow him/her to grieve. And, although
you may be in the role of supporter, remember that you too will
need to process the complex feelings regarding the move.
What to pack
What to pack depends largely on what type of facility your loved
one will be moving into. Individuals going into a skilled
nursing facility (or other residence with room and board
accommodations) will bring the least since residents' rooms
should be completely furnished. Nonetheless, a special chair or
other small furniture item may be permitted, as space allows.
Check on the house rules for plants. Some potted plants may be
restricted as a potential allergen or toxic substance, if a
bedroom is shared with other residents.
Packing recommendations include a two-week supply of clothing with an
emphasis on comfortable, easy-fit and dressing. If incontinence is
an issue, make sure clothing is easy to remove and that ample
changes of clothes are packed.
In addition, be sure to bring along personal items like framed photos,
photo albums or scrapbooks, reading materials and toiletries like
cosmetics or special hair care items or lotions. Some other items
might be: a personal pillow, afghan or comforter from home.
Expensive jewelry or other valuables are best left at home or in a
bank safe deposit box. To minimize
the risk of theft, anything of value should be inventoried and
documented with the facility at the time of admission. You can
also check with the facility to ensure there is a secure place for
personal, legal and financial documents belonging to the
resident. Show PDF Document.
If you're moving into an assisted living facility with a private
apartment, you'll need to move furniture as well as clothing and
personal items. Unless you have family members with strong backs
who are up for the task, hire professional movers. If you don't
know who to call, the facility may be able to recommend a moving
company. It's a good idea to shop around. If you're moving into
Adult Family Home check with the facility manager what you need
to bring you'll need to move furniture as well as clothing and
Call two or three companies to check prices and availability. Find out
if they'll pack for you or if you need to pack everything yourself.
Leave time on moving day to help your loved one settle in.
Unpacking personal items like family photos, scrapbooks or other
treasured items will make the person feel more comfortable. In
addition to setting up the room, you should plan to tour the
facility and meet staff and other residents. You can request
guest meals in the dining hall for extra family members on
moving day. Also, make sure you know how to reach your loved one
by phone-and He/She knows who to go to for questions or to get
basic needs met. To make leaving more comfortable, schedule the
next visit or outing before you go.
Helping a confused person
How you deal with orienting your loved one will differ greatly
if He/She is forgetful or confused. A confused person can become
more disoriented in a new environment and may not understand her
new surroundings. Further, it may be impossible to prepare
him/her ahead of time. Speak with staff before your arrival (and
while you're there) to help minimize difficulties. Some families
moving a loved one with moderate to severe dementia rely on
well-intentioned deception (i.e., offering few details about the
move before it happens). You can focus on offering comfort and
compassion and reassuring the new resident that you'll be back
You may find that regular visits without the burden of constant
caregiving can help nurture your ongoing relationship with your
relative. There's no one "proper" way to make the
transition work so think through what strategy will is most
appropriate for your family.
Make sure you have an opportunity to meet with the nursing assistants,
the ones who provide hands-on care at the facility. Your ability to
create a rapport between these caregivers and your loved one will
mean the difference between the new resident having a personal
relationship with staff and being one more nameless person on the
Family members can help individualize care by helping staff gets to
know the new resident. Some families write a personal biography of
their loved one including their history, names of children,
siblings, etc, personal likes and
dislikes (especially food), and tips for daily care (e.g., mom
only drinks with a straw, or He/She always takes a bath-never a
shower). Anything that will personalize care and help staff meet
individual needs can be enormously helpful. Consequently RESIDENTíS
PROBLEMS - NEEDS, SERVICES: WHO, WHAT, WHERE,
RESIDENTíS PREFERENCES and CHANGES will be included in
Negotiated Service Plan.
Visiting and ongoing contact
Leaving your loved one in the facility will be tough. It's
unlikely that He/She will feel "at home" in the first
days or weeks in a new place. The transition period will likely
occur over several months. Your ongoing phone calls and visits
will help immeasurably. In addition, by getting to know the
Activities Coordinator you can learn about social activities
that can help your loved one feel less isolated. If the new
resident is able to develop a sense of community or other
interests, it will lessen fears and wanting to go home.
Dealing with complaints
A new living arrangement necessarily means compromises, so be
ready for some things to be less-than-perfect. Listen to your
loved one's complaints - major and minor. Complaints about food
are common and may require a conference with the facility
administrator or kitchen staff. More serious complaints (either
your loved one's or yours) can be addressed to the facility
administrator, family council (if there is one) or contact:
Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman (1-800-562-6028). Or
your State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. The ombudsman is charged
with investigating complaints in nursing homes and reporting
It won't be easy, but by helping your loved one make this important
life transition, you can continue to show that you care.