Comfortable Home-Like Environment

Because of physical limitations or chronic illnesses nursing home residents cannot live independently and a nursing home, although it can be clean and comfortable, is not home. Leaving home and giving up independent living is very upsetting for most people. In many cases the situation is permanent. Nursing home residents have the right to an environment that is as close to a home environment as possible, and one that allows for as much independence as possible.

There are limitations that prevent a nursing home from being identical to someone’s place of residence but a nursing home can be made to feel home-like. Medicare and other agencies make specific recommendations about the environment and living condition of nursing homes. For example, Medicare notes that these facilities should:

  • Be free from overwhelming odors.
  • Have good lighting.
  • Be free from smoking or second-hand smoke.
  • Have noise levels that are acceptable.
  • Have an outdoor recreation area.
  • Offer residents should have a choice of foods at mealtimes. 
  • Have quiet areasavailable for people who desire privacy.
  • Allow residents to have friend and family member visit them.

There are requirements and Medicare has several publications discussing this topic, i.e., Medicare Coverage of Skilled Nursing Facility Care, available online at www.medicare.gov/publications/pubs/pdf/10153.pdf. A CNA has responsibility to help maintain the residents’ rights in this area. Simple interventions that can be done include:

  • Keep the environment clean and comfortable.
  • Respect the residents’ privacy.
  • As much as is practical allow the residents to determine their daily activities and schedule. 
  • Allow the residents the opportunity to socialize when and with whom they like.
  • Make sure residents receive proper grooming and personal hygiene.
  • Provide proper nutrition. 
  • Make sure that the residents receive the medical attention they need in order to remain healthy. Remember, a mentally competent adult has the last word about what medical care and/or medications she/he receives.