One of my "missions" in life is having Transition Rooms in all nursing homes. My mother transitioned in October of 2008. I learned a lot during her dying process. The facility she was at did the best they could, but it could have been done so much better.
The whole week before she crossed over, mom was in bed actively dying. She had a roommate who was mobile. Mom's bed was by the door so Rose and her visitors had to pass by her and us to get to their side of the room. Each time they went in and out, they felt the need to say something. When your loved one is dying, your focus is on them. You really don't care about pleasantries. Conversely, I'm sure it was uncomfortable for them to have to walk by us knowing that mom was dying. I'm sure they didn't know what they should or shouldn't do or say.
The night before she passed, my sister and I stayed with mom all night. The staff did the best they could to make us comfortable, but all we had were straight back chairs. We caught little naps by leaning forward and putting our heads on mom's bed. We couldn't talk, watch TV or move around because mom's roommate was trying to sleep. It was very cramped for Sharon, mom and me to be in that small space without disturbing Rose.
The next evening, my mom crossed over. It was at 9:10 PM. For the elderly in nursing homes, that might as well have been 2:00 AM. For them, even 9:10 PM is the middle of the night. My family all came to say their goodbyes. The staff got Rose out of bed and took her to the lounge. They did that to give us some private time which was much appreciated. But it was so unfair to Rose. That was her home after all and she had to leave it in "the middle of the night."
Her children came to my mother's funeral and said that Rose had a hard time going back to her room. She knew mom had died and she didn't want to go back there. They had to give her a sedative.
My goal is for all nursing homes to have Transition Rooms. It would be a private room to which they would transfer the actively dying. The room would either have large recliners or small sofa beds for the comfort of the family. The resident would have peace and quiet. The family would have comfortable private time with their loved one. And the former roommate wouldn't have to watch someone die and be reminded of their imminent fate. It's a win-win-win situation. It would be more compassionate to all involved and help make a difficult time just a little easier.
Nursing homes with all private rooms have a little to learn too. An aunt that I was very close to passed away in May of 2011. She was at a facility that had all private rooms. What they didn't have was a comfortable place for family to spend the night. Again, they did the best they could. But it could be done so much better. I realize that it would be an enormous expense to equip every room with either large recliners or small sofa beds. But they could purchase several, put them on casters, and wheel them into the room of an actively dying resident for the comfort of their family.
I want to believe that these facilities are run by and staffed with compassionate individuals. But maybe by not being on the receiving end of the situation, they don't even realize that there is an issue and how easy it would be to rectify.
I wish I had the opportunity to tell my story and share my ideas with nursing home associations or boards. But at least I can tell it here. Thank you for indulging me.
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