I admitted my 89yo mother to a stand-alone, "award-winning" assisted living/memory care unit with trust and hope. At the urging of my family, and allowed by state regulations, I installed a camera. I like the location and facility, and appreciate how I've seen caregivers communicate with my mother. My mother, to my surprise, is rising to the challenge and beginning to acclimate. I want this situation to work for us.
However, within the first week, my camera caught a male visitor entering her room 2 nights in a row. On the second night, he touched her on her shoulder and toe, waking her up, and causing her to cry out. After the first night, choosing to take a soft approach, I reported what I saw verbally to the Executive Director and asked her to assure that the door was locking appropriately as staff members left the room. After the second night, I sent an email message to the ED, cc'd to the Administrative Manager, reporting what I saw in detail, and requested that she assure me that my mother would be safe and secure. I received no reply from either individual addressing the concern and when I arrived for my 3:30 appointment and was escorted to the room by a caregiver, we discovered that the door was unlocked with no one in the room. I talked with a care supervisor and learned that because her unit had been a "model," the door handle/lock was different than those on the other patient units and that their solution was to orient all the staff to the handle/locking mechanism. After some discussion, I was eventually told that the maintenance man was coming from another facility to change the lock. I remained until that was done.
Two days later, when I arrived and was escorted to the room, the door opened without a key. I had yet to receive a return email reply from the ED, or AM, to my first email message. So, I sent a very direct but tactful message requesting an automatically locking door and/or move to a unit in a hallway away from the visitor by day's end. This time, I cc'd the message to the Marketing and Sales Director, as well as the ED and AM, and requested a return reply. I received a reply within minutes from the ED indicating that the maintenance man would "look at it" that day. The maintenance man called me himself to say that he changed the lock to one that would lock automatically as caregivers leave the room, taking the "human factor" out of the equation. I feel satisfied with this solution but am very disappointed about communication regarding this concern.
I hate that I had to start my relationship with the administrative staff this way but also know that I would never forgive myself if I did not report safety concerns and something happened to my mother. I am a well-educated nurse with extensive background, including a bit of experience in geriatric, mental health, and locked units. I know good care when I see it and I have read all the state regulations about assisted living/memory care. I know that the care delivered to my mother will not be perfect but have already noted many indications that standards of care are not being met - especially on nights and weekends.
I do not wish to use the camera as a "gotcha" tool but as a tool for collaboration to my mother's benefit. As a caregiver myself, I understand that this camera can be off-putting. Please help me learn how to draw the line between attempting to "micro-manage" her care, and picking and choosing battles judiciously as her advocate. I'm also open to suggestions about how to best communicate my concerns when warranted.
Appreciate your input!