Tell Me Something Good About Nursing Homes

“And in the top story of the day,” I teased my friend’s mother, who was fretting about us living in ‘dangerous’ New York City, “five million people went to work and came home with absolutely no problem!”

When I read about nursing homes in the news, it’s likely to be a disturbing report on nursing home abuse or neglect that makes me understand why people are terrified they will one day have to live in one. There’s no tourist information board advertising the shows and activities available to the residents. Rarely is there discussion of the kindnesses done by people who were once strangers, or mention of the friendships and sense of community that develop in long term care. If all I knew about nursing homes was what I read in the news, I’d be terrified too.
Because of my work, however, I know that for every report of an abusive aide, there are far more aides who carefully assist their charges to look their best, and are the first to notice changes that need attention. For every story about negligence, there are many more nurses healing wounds and keeping a close watch on your loved ones. Every day I see the nursing home staff taking pride in making the residents happy and comfortable.
Those are the stories I’d like to hear. If you have a positive nursing home anecdote, please send it to me by clicking on the “Contact Me” envelope, which will open up an email window. I’d like to feature some of these anecdotes in future blog posts. Your email address will not be posted, and let me know if you’d like to be anonymous. You can also share your experience, anonymously or not, by adding to the Comments section at the bottom of this post.
Let’s create a more balanced picture of nursing home life.

5 thoughts on “Tell Me Something Good About Nursing Homes”

  1. Eleanor,
    Thank you for this blog post. Most nursing homes (and nursing home staff members) deserve more positive press than what is usually written about in the papers. I have spent almost my entire professional career in long term care and have had the privilege of working with many caring and dedicated staff.
    – The Administrator who cooks homemade meals (in a unit kitchen), repeatedly, for a resident who refuses to eat.
    – The Social Worker who pays for a resident to participate in a ball game trip when he didn't have the money and couldn't get any from his family.
    – The Speech Therapist who goes above and beyond the call of duty working to get a voice synthesized computer for a resident who can no longer speak.
    – The Porter who dances with a resident and makes her feel like a million bucks.
    – The Recreation Leader who patiently shops for the resident who always wants the item returned.
    – The Psychologist who does everything he can to help a 90+ year old resident see her imprisoned son one last time before she dies.
    – The CEO who recognizes the need to create continues as long as we live, builds an art studio and designates an area for a resident art gallery.
    – The C.N.A. who brings in clothes for "her" resident to wear in the annual fashion show and then makes her up to look her best.
    – The Food Service Director and dietary workers who host daily summer barbecues.

    While I have witnessed many grand gestures by many staff members, it is the relationships that develop between residents and staff as well as the daily acts of kindness that make many facilities home and that I find most touching.

    I was recently asked, "How do you think Jeanette looks?" I responded, "She looks pretty…she always looks good." The C.N.A. proudly replied, "She's mine."

  2. Eleanor, your post and this comment, truly touched my heart. What I have found in my mother's retirement community and the nursing homes I volunteer at, is pure, unconditional love. Sometimes I have this crazy idea that I want to pull people in off the street and just tell them to stop for 15 minutes and come and visit, and really experience "living".

  3. Thanks, Sue, for all those great examples. I see them every day too.

    I agree, Dale, there's a lot of love in nursing homes. Volunteers can make a huge difference in the lives of the residents, almost becoming like family members. For the residents who don't have any other visitors, they can be a lifeline.

  4. You make some good points. However, I think it is really important that we don't ignore the terrible abuse that is occurring in some nursing homes. Please join our community on Facebook if you or someone you love has been affected by this problem, which is getting ever more serious with all the cost-cutting going on right now in senior care. Link is here –!/pages/Elder-Care-Action-Nursing-Home-Watch/163612893672612?v=wall

  5. Marsha, cost-cutting can certainly affect the level of abuse in nursing homes. Thank you for your link. I offer this site because, while we often hear about abuse, we rarely hear the good stories.


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