I recently attended a meeting at my church to learn how generally to visit residents in hospitals, resident's home and nursing homes. The information was very helpful in learning that my purpose is not only to limit my visits to the nursing home, but to also talk to other residents while I am visiting, especially those that come up to me or wish to start a conversation. Granted, some of the information below is for the visitation ministry of our church.
Know the name of the person or people that you are visiting
Know special health considerations: hard of hearing, diabetes, or fasting. This may be due to a medical test that will be taken and or a disease that could be hampered by giving food items for example, cookies.
Always sign-in at the sign-in book
Leave a calling card
You can visit in the room or in an open space
Visit with the neighbor resident, usually there are two residents in one room, sometimes the other resident will not see anyone for a time, because the family is outside the local town or in another parts of the state.
Find a staff person
Always introduce yourself
Log or Journal your visits
If the door to the room or hospital room is closed, the patient or resident is receiving personal care. The visitor should remain outside, or if your visiting other residents or patients, see them and come back.
Deal with the resident's spiritual and emotional health, not physical health
Switch the conversation to them
Inform them of what's going on in the community
Discuss military experiences, if desired
Be aware of where your feet are
What makes your visit different?
Pray with them
Share a scripture verse
Touch the arm only between elbow and their wrist
General guidelines for the amount of time spent during the visit
Ask the person if it's okay to hug
Ask, "Can I visit again?"
Confirm a date, because sometimes we get busy, but definitely should visit sometime during the day
If a resident is in Isolation - and your visiting without a request, you have a "choice" not to enter into the room
What is NPO?
Visit the person, not the illness or the disease
Don't use the cellular phone, remember your time is with the resident or patient
Visiting a patient or resident with Dementia disease
Use the word F-O-C-U-S
Focused - you face at or as close to eye-level
Orient - Never say "That's wrong." It may irritate them
Continue - Continual conversation / pickup on one another
Unstick - assist with saying a word / sometimes the dementia mind 'stops'
Structure - Structure questions / try board games, puzzles
Use exchange - comment on shirt, smile or eyes, the room they are staying in or hair
Be Direct - short sentences, don't rephrase, repeat. When you say, Hi, my name is Kendra from Trinity Church, then say again, I'm from Trinity Church, my name is Kendra, you just had your dementia patient try to process the first comment, shutdown and start over again to try to understand the second question/comment. You have to repeat the same phrase, Hi, this is Kevin your son. And when she looks like she is still not understanding what you said, repeat, Hi, this is Kevin your son.
Avoid loud noises
Avoid startling a patient experiencing dementia
How to talk to people that are dying
Hearing is always the very last thing to go
Never say "don't worry about it."
When they say, "I'm afraid.", ask them a question, "Tell me, about your fears."
Five statements for the dying
I forgive you.
Please forgive me.
I Love you.
Goodbye, It's okay to go. Sometimes, we feel the need for permission from someone.
What to do if the resident or hospital patient dies during the visit or just before your visit
This information is specifically for church ministry, and may not be for you, but something to consider.
If the resident dies during your visit, and the family is not present, notify a nurse, and stay with the person until the family arrives, many times death is too strong an emotion for family members to enter the room. Stay with the resident (outside the room if desired) until the funeral home arrives. I know that this is unsettling, and as I write this, I'm somewhat uncomfortable with it, but it's truth. If it were you, would you want to die alone with no one in the room or just outside the room?
If the resident has already died and there is family in the room or hospital room, pray outside the room and wait until someone comes outside the room, some will ask you to pray for them in the room. This is a private family moment that should be respected. A reverent moment for the family to share with the deceased. Act only if asked, do not ask them.