How Nursing Homes Avoid Ugly Stereotypes

When people think of nursing homes, they rarely have positive feelings. On some level, this is unavoidable. After all, what nursing homes must represent, at least partially, is a place where the infirm go when they cannot take care of themselves, and once there, they likely will not leave until they die.

The subconscious connection someone places on a nursing home is almost certainly a fear that they too might end up there. The connection to the inevitable future of weakening health and the desire not to confront mortality inevitably will make people shy away from nursing homes to a certain extent.

Though that negative image cannot be helped, it is worth considering other sides of negative opinion and reaction that might be dealt with. After all, hospitals are also places for the sick where many people die, and yet, while most people don’t enjoy hospitals, they do not immediately feel repulsed by them.

What can nursing homes do?

First, they should work on building up positive associations for their work. Nursing homes, after all, do a great deal for their communities. They take care of those who need care most. They make sure that life near the end is as pleasant and painless as possible. They take the burden of care off families that cannot handle it. They provide a home for those who lack one. Many people who do not have much left in life can find some final comfort and perhaps renewed purpose in a nursing home. Just because they are unable to take care of themselves, it doesn’t mean the infirm should not enjoy life as much as possible, right?

If more people associated nursing homes with these positive qualities, there would be far less negativity surrounding the profession.

A second and perhaps more important issue would be to increase transparency for those who have relatives in nursing homes. Everyone has heard of stories of nursing home abuse. While these cases are rarer than people assume, the transgression is so egregious, many hold those rare events against the whole enterprise. To keep such negative associations away from nursing homes, each place should do its best to prove that they are not a location where such things can happen.

While nursing homes already have strict background checks, sharing the rigorousness of this might help relieve the concerns of those who are considering putting family members into that home’s care. Further, giving detailed notes (even to the point of being excessively detailed) about each patient’s daily activities would perhaps be a hassle for the nursing home but would go a long way towards reassuring families.

Should these two suggestions be taken up, nursing homes could recover much of their reputation and become associated with other respectable and admirable pillars of the medical community, as they should be.

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