Moving is never easy and moving a loved one to a memory care community presents its own unique set of challenges. Even though safety is top of mind, it is also important to provide the comforts of home for the resident. The following checklist will help care staff make the move-in experience more manageable and less overwhelming for families.
Before moving in
Encourage family members to visit the community before their loved one moves in, so you can evaluate the space and dimensions together. This will help determine the type of furniture needed and the layout of the room. You can also discuss the storage space for frequently used items and suggest decorating so the room won’t feel institutional.
While you want to make the room comfortable, it is also necessary to take the less is more approach for the initial move in. Ensure families have a thorough understanding of what is necessary by reviewing the following:
- Environmental preferences/routine checklist provided by the family.
- Add a door sign with the resident’s name to help support orientation to the new environment.
- Highlight safety concerns as soon as possible.
- Let the family know that the community will offer guidance during the move-in process to ensure a safe living space is created.
Before move-in day, care staff must review exactly what is needed in the resident’s bedroom with the family and explain risks regarding specific furniture. It’s also important to develop a “bedroom assessment checklist,” which should be enforced monthly or at a change of condition or post-fall:
- Bed size: will dictate position in the room; be mindful of a new bed that the resident has never used before.
- Dresser: Limit number of drawers.
- Bedside table: Recommend a round table or cushioned ottoman to prevent injury from corners.
- Lamp: Easy to turn on/off.
- TV and console table (viewing point): Determine if TV should be mounted or secured to wall.
- Sturdy chair with arms: Consider appropriate height for mobility and discourage use of chairs that swivel or rock. Even though people love recliners and families want to bring these to assisted living, they are very often the cause of serious falls.
- Accessible storage/shelving: Keep in mind that storing frequently accessed items on low shelves can cause falls.
- Consider wall and floor colors: High color contrast is recommended to help delineate perimeters of furniture and assist residents with waning eyesight to recognize shapes and boundaries.
- Personal items and decorations: Create a cozier atmosphere with photos and framed pictures.
Also, make a point of highlighting items that should be avoided, such as recliners, rocking/swivel chairs, ottomans, oversized furniture, low-color contrast furniture and bedding.
Mobility status influences design
Mobility status is a major factor to consider when designing a bedroom. When discussing the move in with family, it is a good time to explain the space needed to safely move about the room:
- No mobility aid: Reduce risk by making sure items are within reach of standing or sitting.
- Two- or four-wheeled walkers: Room should have more space for pathway to exit, which means no bulky furniture and positioning the bed against a wall.
- Wheelchair: Ensure there is additional space for safe transfers from bed and chairs with multiple care staff in the room.
Maintenance after move-in
Since a resident’s condition will change over time, it is essential to continuously adjust the room design for the safest environment possible by evaluating:
- Bed location, height, width and length
- Hospital beds with different options
- Bedrails, attached transfer enabling devices, transfer poles
- Body pillows or wedges and number of pillows
- Color and pattern of blankets
- Chairs: If the resident uses a chair, consider depth and firmness, armrest types, chairs with leg rests, chairs with ottomans and lift chairs
A room in a memory care community is never going to be comparable to a resident’s long-time home. It’s important to help families treat this move as an opportunity to create a new home for the resident. It should be a comfortable, safe environment where a loved one can receive the highest level of care they need.