I know it is not all smooth sailing when a loved one is placed into care. Things don’t always happen the way you want them to and, in your (and their) eyes, they can go very wrong sometimes.
Throughout all my years working in long term care, I have noticed that the biggest issues that keep cropping up between people are the disappearance of personal belongings and the appropriate handling of clothes.
Sometimes these issues are avoidable, other times not. It’s important to remember that your loved one can be upset with or without reason…
And that those in charge at the facility have a lot of people to keep up with.
So in this post, we’ll cover some measures you can take in order to avoid frustration when your loved one is in care.
“I Honestly Thought It Was Mine!”
It’s very frustrating when precious belongings go missing or are found in other people’s rooms.
Nevertheless, it’s understandable for people with memory loss to get confused.
I’ve heard and witnessed cases of people that enter other people’s rooms by mistake, and even pick up precious items and then put them down somewhere else.
Afterwards, it is hard to know exactly who did it because even in state of the art facilities, it’s very difficult to monitor a person 24/7 when they are mobile.
“I’m Missing A Sock… Again!”
Equally frustrating but perhaps more avoidable is when clothes are not cared for properly or disappear to then turn up in someone else’s room.
This is not usually the fault of a person with dementia, but rather the inattention and negligence by the caregivers or laundry personnel.
I honestly don’t understand why this happens, but it is an ongoing problem that many managers have to battle each day.
5 Things You Can Do
These things happen, in varying degrees of course, along many caring facilities.
So it’s best to simply be prepared and not leave things to chance.
I am now going to offer five suggestions on how you can reduce the risk of these frustrated events happening to you and your loved one.
1. Put Their Name On Everything
This may seem like going back to the days when you or your kids were on kindergarten…
But in a certain way going into care is similar. And that’s why this works.
It really helps to make sure that every item of clothing, photograph or precious Knick Knack has your loved one’s name on it.
That way if anything gets misplaced or taken by a confused resident, the rightful owner can be promptly identified.
2. Make An Inventory
Whether your loved one is about to go into care or already in a facility, it helps to keep an inventory of items that your loved one has taken in with them.
The thing is, even you can forget what has actually been taken to the facility in the first place. Perhaps new items are even brought in every time someone visits during the first months.
So as you can imagine, it definitely helps to record everything on an inventory.
You can write everything down or keep a photo record. This will make it much easier to make sure that a lost item was definitely lost in the facility.
Then, having pictures will make the work of retrieving them much easier.
3. Do Periodical Stock Checks
By “Stock Checks” I mean checking up on your loved one’s belongings every now and then.
This will help you to discover early on whenever things are misplaced or go missing.
When you visit, you can tidy up the drawers, closets or wherever your loved one keeps precious items.
This can also be helpful to keep track of your loved one’s clothes and identify any items that need mending or replacing.
4. Don’t Take Items You’re Not Willing To Risk
I know this may seem sad. In an ideal world you should be able to take anything you want to a care facility and not be worried about anything going missing.
But things happen and you just never know…
Also, when it comes to items that have a particular significance or great value, it’s probable that they just don’t have the same significance to others.
So it will be best not to take them unless they’re completely necessary.
This is particularly true of items with special meaning or family heirlooms.
If you want to keep them on the long term and don’t want to risk anything happening to them, perhaps they are best left at home.
5. Bring Your Own Laundry Bag
If you are concerned about the way clothing is being laundered and cared for, it definitely helps to provide the facility with your own laundry bag, then taking it and doing that laundry at home.
“But I’m paying “x” amount a month! You would expect them to do laundry!”
While that reasoning definitely makes sense, depending on what you pay, it’s just the best way of ensuring that your loved one’s laundry gets done right.
As with the stock checks, it will also allow you to keep track of any mending that needs to be done or when clothes need to be replaced.
And of course, also being able to sure that no item gets misplaced among all the other resident’s laundry.
It’s About Working With The Facility
I know that what I have suggested isn’t always that easy.
You may not have had time to plan for a person to be placed in long term care, so you just grab what you think they will need.
Presents get taken in for a special occasion and the person giving the gift doesn’t think that it will be necessary to put the person’s name on it.
But when I ran a facility, I lost count of the items that turned up on my desk, without anyone having any idea who they belonged to.
A common recurrence were photographs that no one could identify anyone in. Perhaps they had been left behind after a person passed away, or perhaps the right person just hadn’t seen and claimed them yet.
Either way, as with many other items, it would have been much easier if a name had been placed on or written somewhere.
As you can see, the facility is not always to blame.
While I absolutely understand that it’s not acceptable for clothes to be laundered incorrectly, or be put in other people’s drawers… you need to do your bit too and make sure everything is labeled clearly so they can be returned to you.
Your Loved One’s Advocate
Think of it as being your loved one’s advocate. Having their clothes and other precious items with them is a way of making sure that they feel comfortable in their new home.
So be proactive and help both your loved one and the facility to keep track of personal items. Then whenever something goes missing, you can advise the manager and have them do something about it.
When that time comes, you’ll feel more reassured knowing that you already took certain measures.