It takes a lot of employees to run an efficient nursing home. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reports that under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010 established a National Background Program to conduct background checks on all potential nursing home employees who have direct access to patients.
Although participation in background checks for prospective employees is voluntary in all states other than Washington, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Michigan, Kentucky, Florida, and Alaska, most nursing homes have their own resident safety policies in place that make background checks for prospective employees a matter of standard protocol.
Medical and Non-Medial Staff
A medical director, on-call physician and Registered Nurses (RNs) often head the medical staff, and are assisted by practical nurses and nurse aides, as well as medicine technicians, medical and radiology technicians, phlebotomists The medical team is rounded out by physical, occupational and speech therapists.
The non-medical staff normally includes a dietician, housekeeping/laundry personnel, and a handyperson who makes minor repairs, fixes small plumbing problems, adjusts troublesome TVs, changes light bulbs, etc. Larger nursing homes usually employ an Activity Director who organizes games, movie viewings, arts & crafts classes, exercise routines, book readings, and the like.
General Nursing Home Services Provided by Non-Medical Staff
Assistance with dressing, using the bathroom and bathing – Nursing home patients have regularly scheduled showers. In many cases the resident sits on a wheeled shower chair that is pushed into a shower room with large wheelchair accessible stalls. An aide helps with the washing, drying and shampooing process as needed and then wheels the resident back to his/her room.
Ambulatory assistance – Residents are encouraged to walk as much as possible and are helped getting around with the aid of a walker or cane. Wheelchairs are always available for resident use.
Laundry/linens – Bed linens and bathroom towels are changed on a regular basis, often daily. Laundry services are also regularly provided for personal clothing.
Transportation – Transportation is usually provided to and from specialist clinics or other medical facilities.
Routine Wellness and Medical Care Services Provided by Medical Staff
Physical/mental assessments – A comprehensive assessment would be provided upon admission to determine the specific needs of your loved one. It is typical for an assessment to be performed on a regular basis, every two to six months, thereafter as part of routine wellness care and to track the progression of existing issues.
Nutritional monitoring – Such doctor-ordered specifics as a low-salt, low-cholesterol, or low/high-calorie diets are incorporated into well-balanced meals as a matter of standard practice. Residents are also closely monitored for signs of dehydration, which can be common among the elderly. Additionally, nursing home staff routinely monitors elimination to ensure healthy digestion.
Dispensing medicine – Qualified staff members distribute all prescription and non-prescription medications in accordance with doctor’s orders.
Physical, occupational, and speech therapy – Specialized, and often customized, therapy is provided based on resident needs:
- Patients recovering from joint replacement and other surgeries must have regular physical therapy (P.T.) to regain functionality. Many large SNFs have their own well-equipped P.T. departments while smaller nursing homes either make arrangements for therapist visits or transport residents to a nearby P.T. facility.
- Occupational therapists work with residents to help them regain functional performance of the activities of daily living (ADL).
- Speech therapists are especially useful for post-stroke patients who have lost their speaking ability.
Pharmacy, lab and radiology – These types of services are not normally found in nursing homes unless the facility is attached to a hospital. However, most nursing homes have regular visits from qualified medical professionals:
- Lab technicians are available to perform blood work and other types of lab work for doctor-ordered tests.
- Physicians or nurse practitioners with prescriptive authority order prescribed medications from their associated pharmacy.
- X-ray and ultrasound technicians are often available at adjacent radiology facilities.