I am the POA for my aunt who was diagnosed in april with COVID and hospitalized. During her hospital stay, the hospital staff nurse facilitated calls daily or almost daily. Also the hospital chaplain was helpful in visiting and giving my aunt support. So upon her discharge and return to her nursing home, the calls became inconsistent. No visits are allowed which makes the calls I feel important. I want to let my aunt know she is not alone and in our thoughts.
It feels the staff might be giving a standard answer that a phone can not reach her room because it's in the back.

I was told that she was placed in a room far from the nurses center and the network connection was poor. If she was a recent covid discharge, I thought she might be placed closer to the nurses center. On several occasions, I was able to get a cooperative worker who facilitated a call with their own cell phone and there appeared no network issues. The nurses would say she was no longer talking however I felt that my aunt was responding appropriately and listening. When I finished a sentence she would begin talking. Without her false teeth, it has been hard to understand her and her swallowing ability has decreased.

Today I described to the nurse the room I believed my aunt was in prior and it seems to be the same when I last visited. I had no problem using a cell phone in this room and spoke with my aunt regularly before covid. I have treaded carefully with this nursing home because she was a transfer from ALF where another relative placed her. The SNF director has been defensive in the past when I've had questions, almost to the point of being unprofessional. He has made assumptions about my involvement without full scope of our family history. There have been some family communication issues here and I am not in a position to force any issue at this point since I am caring for my mother.

I am not sure if this is standard for nursing homes to not facilitate calls or if in particular I am on do not allow call list.

I totally understand your dismay, as my MIL in LTC had covid in May. They were terribly understaffed, as their nurses and workers became sick themselves and then had to quarantine for 2 weeks. There were no subs. At one point they had 16 elderly covid patients in the facility to 1 nurse. Every time they entered my MIL's room to facilitate a 3-minute phone call (because she was so sick and disoriented) the nurse had to change her PPE, and they didn't have much to spare. They created a 1st floor covid wing so that families could at least have window visits. It was chaotic at first as they were shuffling residents around as the cases increased and the staffing decreased. The difference was that the management and staff acted magnificently under pressure. I think the fact that the admin at your mom's facility was defensive is a red flag. My MIL used to be in a facility where the admin was like that, and we moved her. It's not that she received poor care, but they were terrible communicators and families don't need to feel like they are adversaries to the facility. My Italian Gramma used to say, "If the head of the fish stinks, the whole fish stinks" which means that if the leadership is bad, it trickles down and affects every one and every aspect of an organization. I've run my own business for 38 years and I vouch for this adage.

My MIL was put on hospice but actually survived covid and is her old self today. At some point you may want to consider a different place for her if possible. Look for admin that has been leading for many years. My MIL's facility has had the same admin for at least 10 years. She is also in a faith-based non-profit place (Presbyterian Homes) and they have many facilities in our state, which means each individual facility probably has more support from a stronger "parent" organization. If your mom's place is a stand-alone facility, they may be struggling in more ways than one. Not sure if you can request your mom be moved to a 1st floor room where you can actually have eyes on her. When you talk to admin/staff just be really diplomatic and communicate your support and understanding. We were able to donate 300 face shields to my MIL's facility and they were ecstatic to get it. Covid has brought a sh*tstorm to every LTC/MC that no one has experience navigating. I wish you success in advocating for mom and peace in your heart as we all journey through covid towards "daylight".
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Geaton777

Of course you should be able to call regularly. Keep it pleasant, but ask the director for a list of times that it would be convenient for the workers to help make the calls happen. Nicely remind them the your aunt depends on this communication and you intend to keep it up
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Daughterof1930

I know that staff can be a little bit prickly about having to abandon other tasks in order to facilitate phone calls - what you have to remember is that it's not as simple as handing someone the phone, it's the time taken trekking up and down the halls, ensuring they are awake and willing to talk (and in the case of face time that they look presentable) and often dealing with agitation when the call is finished, and of course multiplied by the number of residents. Maybe it would help if you arranged a certain time for calls each day? And if you go that route do make every effort to be punctual, I'm hearing of families showing up late for calls (and visits) or even blowing them off completely and that's is causing even more stress among staff and the residents.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to cwillie
Pasa18 Aug 4, 2020
Yes I have done all of the above at both hospital and SNF. The facility must not have adequate staffing.
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