27 July 2011

'Dignity Therapy' Often Not Used In Nursing Homes

Dignity therapy, this is a topic that does need more publicity. Especially for those in nursing homes, hospice care, and hospitals. Having visited with people that have parents or relatives in a nursing home, it seems that this is one place that very sorely needs some guidance in providing “dignity therapy”. For nursing homes and hospice care, dignity therapy may need to be adapted to fit the needs of the people.

So places the provide care for the elderly need to learn how to use dignity therapy and allow time for the elderly to be properly cared for. It is not just a nursing home or care facility here and there, but on a nationwide basis, the level of care and treating the elderly with dignity sometimes is very lax. I would even say that some of those housed in nursing homes are often stripped of their dignity more than they are helped in maintaining even a small semblance of dignity. While many of the nursing homes are working to be better and meet state mandates, it takes time to weed out undesirable employees.

What makes the application of dignity therapy so difficult in most settings is that many people are housed in nursing homes and care facilities and are put there because they no longer are capable of caring for themselves. The fact that the majority cannot verbalize their feelings any longer makes it difficult to know whether they are happy or even being allow to keep any dignity.

This needs to change and those working in nursing homes need formal training on caring for people in nursing homes to allow them as much dignity as can be managed.
Yes, this can be difficult. Some people are not easy to deal with and many have been dumped in a nursing home (yes, I said dumped) because the family can no longer deal with them. Others have signed a medical power of attorney for a family member that does not exercise good management and listens to other family members wanting access to whatever assets the parent has.

Sometimes there are few family members available to spread the care-giving around and the one person has no choice for their health, but to put a parent in a nursing home. The care has become too much of a health burden for them to continue without damaging their own health.

Therefore, dignity therapy needs to be taught not only to nursing homes in a modified format, but to family caregivers as well. If done early on and properly, this can easy the transition when a nursing home is no longer unavoidable. Often there are alternatives which can assist family caregivers and allow a single family caregiver the break that they need for managing their own health.

Dignity therapy can have many forms and be a useful tool in not only caring for the terminally ill, but for the elderly that find they cannot care for themselves any longer.

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