Aged care 101 – what every good carer should do before leaving a resident’s room

Caring for older people takes a special someone, that cannot be denied. We often hear from the elderly and their families that the quality of care in an individual facility is dependent on the carer or nurse rostered on that day.

After speaking with a number of nurses and carers in the field, we have come up with 5 things that every carer can do to make the day of the elderly that often find it hard to do these things themselves.

1. Ensure the resident has their call bell close by

Having the call bell in close proximity for the resident can avoid distress or anxiety for the resident if they need help. It can also prevent any unnecessary falls. If the resident lives with cognitive impairment and is unable to use a call bell then be sure they have an alternative such as a sensor mat.

There is nothing worse for a family member entering their loved one’s room only to find that the call bell is miles away from their loved one.

Just imagine how the resident must feel if this is their only way to communicate. I know I’d feel rather anxious myself.

2. Ensure the resident has water and any other items in reach

Older people are at high risk of dehydration and for many that cannot fill their own jug or walk to the water jug, ensuring that it’s close by will make all the difference to ensure they keep up their fluids.

Every time you enter their room, help them have a few sips throughout the day so that they reach their optimal fluid intake.

3. Position their pillow – are they well positioned in bed

There is nothing worse entering a resident’s room only to find them slumped over and half-way down the bed.

Not only are they at higher risk of choking if they are drinking fluids and not properly positioned but I couldn’t imagine how uncomfortable it must be left in an awkward position for an extended period of time.

This is often a cause for complaints from families also.

4. Ask if they need the toilet

Most residents are living in aged care as they require some assistance. Incontinence for some can be an embarrassing condition. So why not make it easier for the resident and be sure to ask them frequently if they need the toilet or check their continence aids regularly so that they aren’t lying in a mess for a long period of time, and avoid any further embarrassment of having to change the sheets.

5. Ask if they need anything else

Finally – why not ask them before you leave – is there anything else I can help you with?

Sometimes it is the small but thoughtful acts that really show you care that can make all the difference to an elderly person’s day.

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    1. Yes smile but also include them in conversation. They may be deaf or have dementia but they are still human beings and deserve that respect.

  1. It’s always interesting to read the so called experts opinions and the five steps above. This sort of opinion suggests “one size fits all” mentality and relatives will be misguided if they believe this.
    With high care dementia residents for example, you certainly don’t leave the call bell available as it can and does become a tool for self harm or assault.
    A jug of water will quickly be tipped over themselves or on the floor creating a falls risk etc etc so can the so called professional sector stop misleading the public as each situation is vastly different from the last.

  2. one thing is putting out these sweet articles written by people who never changed a diaper to an adult – completely different thing is assisting with morning routine to 5-6 residents with hard-core conditions, in 2 hours before b/fast (with 3 of them pooping themselves right after the shower). reality check. I give this article a ‘HAHA’ on facebook

    1. Hello Vin,

      The author of this article spent many years working as a nurse in aged care facilities in Australia and changed many continence pads in her time.
      We understand that conditions in some facilities place an extreme amount of pressure on staff, and we also understand that different residents have
      different requirements. This article is an indication of what should be done in order to ensure care, but also an indication to facilities of what staff should have the time to be able to do.

      Kind Regards

    2. So Vin,
      Are you saying you don’t try to do those things for our elders in a care setting? When I read the article I saw it as pretty basic care. I was almost thinking it was unnecessary to say those things. Then I saw you reply 🤔

    3. You Vin are a true example of someone who is not cut out to be a carer at all.Your comments scream out a complete lack of empathy and care. People like you give caring nurses and carers a bad name.

  3. How are any of these reccommendations funny? Disappointing to see such negative responses to what is standard procedure-obviously none of them are hard and fast and it’s up to the judgement of staff to provide what is in the best interest of residents according to their condition and obvious time constraints.

  4. If only it were that simple for everyone. There will always be the resident who needs something more. I was determined to get this woman absolutely everything she could possibly need, and after 15 requests, she still felt the need to buzz for something else.

  5. Thanks for highlighting how we can get so caught up in the work we sometimes bypass basic needs. Like the author I’ve worked countless hours in aged care and dementia settings and visited many acute settings where these needs are sadly often overlooked.

  6. Absolutely all KIND CARING COMPASSIONATE CARERS should do this. I love my job as a Carer. It makes me feel good to know I have made a difference in their lives.

  7. So true should be part of their training also should know it anyway with out being told , also we are going into winter make sure room not to cold and have a rug on them if in a chair

  8. When I go into my husbands nursing home I usually find most of the time that the lady’s are mostly with a carer joining in on doing a game or doing something at least. Then I look around and see the men joining in nothing they just sit there looking real unhappy they don’t even seem to try and talk to each other. Most of them don’t even want to be there ,my husband is one of them saying can you take me home. Then that gives you the guilt feeling.

  9. My mother (non-ambulatory) fell out of a wheelchair trying to get to the call-bell which a carer had left on the FLOOR behind her !!! Leaving the call bell out of reach happened many times during her 6 months stay despite complaints to senior staff and management. Another is to replace lids and caps on ointments / jars of creams. Do NOT leave a patient in the same pad for 18 hours so that her bed sheet was saturated. Also once the patient is in “palliative care” REMOVE jugs of water and cups out of sight.
    Unfortunately the list goes ON AND ON !!!!!

  10. smile ayes contact good listening love working with dementia Residents always have good conversation with them ,very interesting story laughing and giggles all day long 😃

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