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Roommate changes

February 7, 2011
by Kathleen Mears
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A few weeks ago I was cruising through the nursing home when I saw two male residents pushing furniture up the hallway. Since they were not hurrying or sneaking, I knew they had permission to make the move. I have never seen that much resident involvement in a room change. All I have ever seen is housekeeping and maintenance moving furniture from room to room. But residents change rooms here much more often than I have ever seen.

So many room changes have occurred recently that the aides had trouble locating some residents at first. A female resident had difficulty getting settled and she has been in several different rooms. Another female resident occupied the bathroom too much. Since two semi-private rooms share one bathroom, that was becoming problematic. There’s a resident who has been here awhile and seems like a nomad. She has been in several different rooms since I came, has little baggage to move, and once she gets permission she just up and goes. I wonder how she lives without familiar things to provide a sense of belonging.

These rooms are small for two people. Up until yesterday I was in a semi-private room by myself. I made the mistake of using most of the room for my possessions. But when you are quadriplegic you need a lot of things. I have pillows for propping my arm at the computer and others for propping when I am sitting in bed. I got a little bit too comfortable in my private space.

And then it happened: Last week I got a roommate. She used to live on the front hall, which is far from this room. I do not know her very well, but she does know that I write. I am hoping I will have some quiet time. She will probably be like most people and wonder who I am talking to when I use my dictation software.

I had an assistant help me put things in storage bags and totes that will go in the facility's basement. We had to inventory everything. Now we have to fine-tune the placement of everything on my side of the room to maximize space.

In all my years living in nursing homes, I have never had a roommate. I lived in a private room for more than 14 years. When I came here I knew this was a semi-private room. But they said they would try to keep the other bed empty as long as possible. Then they got a new resident and the facility became filled to capacity.

My roommate is ambulatory and that will probably give me some security. At least she can call someone if she is here when I need something. But I know that she needs her space too.

I am frightened and I wonder how this arrangement will work out. I have lost many of the coping mechanisms I have relied on over the years in the last few months. I hope I can keep my resolve.

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Comments

'Getting a little too comfortable in your private space' is a misnomer of a feeling. In my humble opinion, there should be no such thing as being too comfortable in one's own private space.

It certainly isn't a luxury and while you may find some benefits with your new roommate... everyone needs and deserves their own personal, quiet space.

All my best Kathy!

Since you''ve been there so long, couldn't they get you a private room? I'm amazed that they've let you keep your semi private private so long.

It bothers me when I see so many room changes. It is your home, your room. Often times they (administration) "ask" residents if they would change rooms to make room for a new admission that might have a different need or something like that.
It takes so long to get used to these moves too....both staff and residents have a hard time adjusting.

To Clarify...

I lived in the same nursing home for 14 1/2 years and I did have a private room there.

I came here in September to a semi private room. Some staff thought I should be in a private room. However, administration always reminded me I was in a semi private room.

I was given 24 hours notice that I would be getting a roommate. However, the facility only had one empty bed the one in my room. I would have appreciated more than 24 hours notice.

Because I'm quadriplegic I memorize where things are in my room. That is helpful to me, the staff, and my family and friends. They are more easily able to find things.

Everyone admits that it is a bit crowded in here. My desktop computer takes up some space. So staff have been bumping into furniture for a few days.

I guess I could refuse a particular roommate but I cannot refuse to have a roommate.

The residents should have the right to refuse a room change. It is a part of their personal rights. There cannot be a change without their or their family's agreement to do so, and there should be notice involved too.

Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

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