How to help a loved one settle into a nursing home

Moving into a nursing home is likely to be a huge adjustment for your loved one, but maintaining a positive attitude and providing lots of reassurance can really help them to settle in quickly.

Here are 5 useful tips that can really help your loved one adjust to their new home:

Personalise their new bedroom

It’s important to bring at least a few personal items that are recognisable and familiar to make their new bedroom feel comfortable, reassuring and like home.

Family photographs, pictures for the wall, favourite ornaments or a familiar clock, blanket or bedspread can all provide reassurance and an important  sense of continuity. 

Help staff get to know your loved one

You will have a wealth of knowledge about your loved one’s likes, preferences and past experiences that the staff will want to find out. The more information you can pass on, the more it will help the staff to get to know him or her as an individual and settle him/her in to feel properly at home.

Before moving in, make a note of a few pieces of key information that you can share with staff immediately to help them make your loved one feel relaxed and at home. These could include such things as- 

  • any nickname your loved one likes to be called, 
  • important routines for them, such as the times they like to go to bed at night and get up in the morning, 
  • any drinks and foods they particularly like or don’t like,
  • what time in the day they like to have a shower/bath

Sharing this kind of personal information means your loved one is more likely to respond positively to staff and come to trust them quickly and easily.

You can also create a short life story to share with staff about your loved one. This could be done through photos, writing or video, and is an effective way to help staff members get to know them and perhaps spark a conversation or two.

Make visits short but frequent

It’s important for you to provide lots and lots of reassurance. Seeing a familiar face regularly, particularly if your loved one has memory loss, is likely to help them adjust better to the changes.

You may need to keep reminding your loved one that this is now their home. Stay positive and calm, and reassure them that you love them. Spend time with them in their room and do something together such as look through pictures together.

If leaving proves difficult for you, ask a member of staff to provide a distractraction so you can slip out – mealtimes are often a good time to do this.

Encourage participation in activities

Encouraging your loved one to join in with some of the activities going on is a great way to help them socialise and make friends, as well as providing important stimulation for the mind. If they are reluctant, you could go with them to start with. This is a positive way to spend time together and will help them adjust to their new environment.

Wait before taking them out on visits

Although you may be used to taking your loved one out for visits or a leisurely drive, it may be better to wait until they have settled before taking them out. Just give them a little time to adjust to their new home and settle into a familiar routine.

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Often the transition to a nursing home is harder for the family members watching it than it is for the person experiencing it. While you continue to worry constantly whether your loved one is settled and doing ok, he/she may well have already adjusted and feel right at home.

Keeping in regular contact with the staff is always helpful. We appreciate the chance to help, so voice any concerns you may have, big or small, to give us a chance to know how best to help and support you.

Gresham Lodge in Scunthorpe is a specialist dementia care home with a strong, caring, community atmosphere.

Care is available on a full time, respite or day care basis. Give us a ring on 01724 410042 to have a chat and find out more about our dementia specialist facilities.

Gresham Lodge
 

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