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My search for a new home

September 9, 2013
by Kathleen Mears
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Ever since I was involuntarily sent to this facility three years ago, my objective has been to find another closer to where I used to live. This facility recently told me a Medicaid bed became available at a nursing home 90 minutes away.

My sister toured it and said it looked just like any nursing home to her. She e-mailed photos and a video to give me an idea of the space. So I decided to visit it. I arrived unannounced at 11:30 a.m. There were a few residents sitting outside on a cement patio. The front door was solid with no glass and it opened automatically by pushing a large touch plate. But I would need assistance with that.

I passed an office where a woman was engrossed in her work. When I came to the nurse's station, I asked to tour the facility.

The admissions director took me down the wide, carpeted hallways to see a semi-private room on the rehab unit. One bed was in the normal position, while the bed on the window side was against the wall. The closet was recessed behind bifold doors. The room's four-drawer chest was shared by both residents. Each person had a nightstand.

Even though the bed was against the wall, I did not think there was enough space to move my environment around me for transfers as we do here. The admission director said the aides would lift me with a Hoyer. When I told her I would rather stand with assistance to transfer, she said finding enough staff to assist me could be a problem.

There were no over-the-bed tables in the room. Residents eat in the dining room, especially those who need to be fed. My heart sank when I heard that because I prefer to eat in my room. I also use two bedside tables for my computer setup.

I could not visualize my desktop computer, printer, and small scanner fitting unless I purchased something to stack them. There did not appear to be extra space to store the pillows I use to prop my arm at the computer and in bed.

The bathroom was small with a sink and toilet on the same wall. A bedside commode with the seat elevated sat over the toilet (without the bucket), leaving little space for turning or transfers. I was told that residents cannot have bedside commodes. But my guide said that furniture could be moved, removed or rearranged so that my things would fit.

The dining room looked large enough for all 86 residents (when at capacity) to dine at the same time. The residents looked clean and were dressed appropriately. Most of them were quiet.

After the tour I told the admissions director it was difficult for me to envision my things in a room with a different layout. I would have to condense the space my computer requires. When I asked her if there was storage at the facility for my extras and off-season clothes, she told me there was not, but rental storage units were 10 minutes away.

Even though that semi-private may be a typical layout, it seemed cramped. There would be little room for me to move around in my power wheelchair. Any changes I would like to make to the room (even those easily dismantled); would have to be approved by management. If all semi-private nursing home rooms are that small in size, I will need to further downsize my life.

Searching online I can find other nursing homes. But if a facility does not have a website I can only get the address and telephone number but no contact person. Facilities with websites usually provide a contact and sometimes an e-mail address. However, facility ownership is not always listed and that is important information to me.



Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...