Tuesday 13 August 2013

Guest Post: In Defense of At-Home Care

Guest Post: In Defense of At-Home Care

 Linda Bright is a staff writer and a public relations coordinator for MyNursingDegree.com.Given her experience as a former hospital administrator, she writes primarily about healthcare reform, patient rights and other issues related to the healthcare industry. In her free time, she enjoys Sudoku, spending time with her family, and playing with her poodle, Max. 

When my grandfather turned ninety, my dad explained to me the meaning of the old proverb ‘once a man, twice a child’. I’d heard the proverb before, but I’d never fully understood what it meant. It wasn’t until my dad explained it in the context of my grandfather’s situation that I discerned the meaning behind the words.

As impossible as it might seem to me, my grandfather had once been a baby. Like all babies, he had relied on other people to bathe him, feed him and clothe him. Now, after being self-sufficient for many years, my grandfather once again required other people to take care of him. In other words, my grandfather was childlike in terms of his renewed dependence on other people.

                  When my father explained the proverb to me, he reminded me that he, too, would one day need someone to take care of him. We grow up half-believing that our parents are invincible, so the idea of my father reaching an age where he was no longer self-sufficient seemed impossible at the time. Now, many years later, my father has aged—just as he once warned me that he would. It is my responsibility to take care of him, the way he used to take care of me.

                  My father sacrificed everything for me. He did everything in his power to provide me with every possible advantage and opportunity. I felt that I owed it to him to provide the best level of care available, which is why I chose twenty-four hour at home care over a nursing home.   

                  You have to understand—this was before I had any experience with at-home care, back when I was still a sales consultant. I didn’t have access to the information I have now. When my brothers and I were trying to decide at-home care and a nursing home, there were two things that trumped all other concerns. The first was our father’s comfort. The second was his safety. 
                  When it came to the question of my father’s comfort, it was imperative that we keep him in his own house for as long as we could. My father has owned his house for forty years. He worked hard for years to pay off the mortgage and poured sweat, blood and time into various home improvement projects in an effort to make sure it was a suitable place to raise a family. That house is more than just a place my father happens to live—it’s a living part of him, a tangible memory that connects him to his past. 

My brothers and I knew that forcing my dad out of his home and into a nursing home would break the old man’s heart. We decided that couldn’t do that to him—not after everything he’s done for us. That’s why we decided to hire at-home care. With twenty-four hour home care, my father doesn’t have to leave the comfort of his own home.

Safety was the second thing my family had to take into account when we were considering whether or not to hire at-home care. When I researched nursing homes online, I was amazed by the amount of physical, emotional and sexual abuse that occurs in adult care facilities. According to an article by ABC News, patients are abused by their caretakers in approximately 1 out of every 3 facilities.

The article, which sites a study conducted by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, listed malnutrition, dehydration, inadequate sanitation/hygiene,  untreated bedsores and inadequate medical care as common problems that plague patients in nursing home facilities. In light of this article (and many others like it), my brothers and I decided that at-home care was the safest option for our father.

Everything we’ve seen since we hired an at-home caretaker has convinced my family and me that we made the right decision. My father is happier than he’s been since my mom passed. He gets to keep his house, maintain some semblance of autonomy and he has company during the day. I don’t know how things would have turned out if we’d put him in a nursing home, but my brothers and I are all glad we didn’t—it’s much more satisfying to see him well taken care of and exactly where he belongs.

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