A living room with five doors

My Experience Moving Dad Into a Nursing Home

I feared nursing homes. I didn’t know what to expect.

My dad was somewhat of a homebody. He loved to be home. Due to dad’s illness, mom became a homebody. When it became apparent that dad could no longer be at home and be safe, it was time to move to a nursing home. This was not a straight move. Dad moved twice before he was in his new forever home. The best way I can describe dad’s forever home is to say “I’d live there, in a heartbeat”.

A chain of nursing homes

Dad’s new home was part of a chain of nursing homes. I was a little uneasy thinking it was a ‘chain’. I hadn’t heard good things about some of those nursing homes. From the moment I walked through the door, I didn’t care anymore. The administrator gave me lots of information about the home, and where dad would be living. I learned that more than 90 percent of the residents in most nursing homes needed memory care support. What I saw on the tour were happy people. I saw plenty of people who were still doing many things for themselves. I saw people who were well cared for. In the dining area, there were lots of folks who were independent. There was also plenty of staff to help those who had lost the ability to feed themselves. I saw dignity and respect for the folks who lived there.

The nursing home neighbourhood

This particular nursing home was divided into quads. Each quad was referred to as a village. Dad’s village was called the village of Tecumseh. In that village, like in any other community, you have neighbours. Dad was not a patient, or a patient number, he was a community member, he was Andy. The gent in the next room was his neighbour. In this neighbourhood, there was a library, a common room, the dining room, a big room with a fireplace where the family can visit with their loved one. What struck me the most was how small, tiny in fact, the nursing station was. There is no nursing station in a neighbourhood, so tiny was appropriate. Some of the villages were locked so neighbours could not wander off. Funny thing was, more than once, I couldn’t get out the door. I couldn’t figure out the code to unlock the door. I never noticed that it was posted at the door. My mom got a good chuckle out of that one!

Kindness of the nursing home staff

It only took Dad about two weeks to settle in. I was so afraid it would not be good. Those two weeks were not horrible like I imagined. The kindness of staff, neighbours and their family members, was enough to bring me to tears. It’s like Dad knew he was safe and in a good place. Some of his more aggressive behaviours were no longer there. Each time I visited I saw Dad smile at least once. I rarely left feeling sad if I could see that smile. His personal support worker was also named Shelley. She was so kind to Dad. She really cared about Dad and the others she looked after. The registered nurse who Mom and I were most connected to was named Denise. What I loved about her was everything. As a family member, you know your loved one is not getting better. Denise helped us walk through the most difficult and best decisions we could make on Dad’s behalf. I will always remember Shelley and Denise for what they did for both Mom and Dad.

This was not at all what I thought a nursing home would be.

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