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Supporting a Loved One Going into a Nursing Home

Supporting a loved one going into a nursing home is complex.

There are many factors to consider during this time of transition when your loved one is going into a nursing home. You can offer support to your loved one during this time, as it can be exhausting and challenging to absorb the information and the changes all at once.  

Be Observant

Going into an a nursing home for the first time can be quite unsettling. This is why it is important to be observant and thorough when searching for a provider or facility. 

By being observant, you will get a feel for whether the service is right for you or your loved one. Look for things such as cleanliness, and odd smells. If you can, take a tour during meal times to see the meals being served. Also consider going during the busy times such as the mornings, when everybody is getting ready for the day. This way you will see how the facility manages during the busy times, and whether they are adequately staffed.

Visiting your loved one

If you are able to, visit your loved one regularly. Stay for a meal and take the time to listen to their concerns, and whether they are settling in. Keep in mind that it often takes time for people to settle into a different environment. By listening and observing, you might be able to pick up on anything that is worrying your loved one, and consequently, offer help and support where you can.

For some people whose loved one is going to an aged care facility, they might not have the capacity to attend frequently for various reasons. This could be due to many factors such as location and work load.  If this is the case for you, then it’s especially important to thoroughly inspect the facility before agreeing to the service, to ensure that it’s going to meet the care goals and care needs of your family member.

woman and man sitting on couch

You may also like to encourage friends and family to share the support, and visit as well. Many facilities can arrange for volunteers to spend time with your family member on a regular basis too. Getting these systems in place prior to the big change, can make for a smoother transition.

Talk to the staff

Talk with care staff and management whenever you can, to get feedback from them. There are many points that you can bring up with them to find out if your loved ones needs are being met. You may also want to observe for, or discuss some of the issues we are about to address with the facility staff. Remember that these are suggestions. You can discuss any concerns that you may have with the facility.

What to look out for

Skin Integrity:

Observe your loved one’s skin. Look for any reddened areas, bruising, or obvious wounds. Ask the facility how they are caring for your family member’s skin. 

  • Are they moisturising daily? 
  • Are they providing regular pressure area care? 
  • How often are they showering?


Is your loved one eating well? And are they drinking enough fluids? You can ask the aged care facility if they are monitoring their weight and dietary intake.


Many residential aged care facilities offer an abundance of social activities to participate in. They also offer communal activities such as dining together, watching movies together, or playing a game of cards together. Find out what your loved one is engaging in. And check that others are coming to visit them too.

Overall Health Status:

You could ask the facility about your family members overall health status and whether you need to follow up on any health related matters:

  • When did they last see their G.P.?
  • Have they seen a dentist since they have been there?
  • Are they seeing a Podiatrist regularly?
  • What allied health services, if any, have been arranged for them?
  • Are there any changes in behaviour, cognition, mobility, or mental health?

Advocating for your loved one

Always remember that there’s no right or wrong questions to ask. If you have worries or concerns, don’t be afraid to raise them with the aged care facility.

If you feel that you need further support, you can call the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600 (free call).

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