An estimated 44 million individuals worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s and related dementias, and many will eventually need skilled nursing care. “Do you know what goes on behind the closed front door of a nursing home?” asks Sister Ann Marie Gallogly (“sister” is the Irish/British term for nurse).
Gallogly has enjoyed a long career as a nurse and nursing supervisor in Northern Ireland, working with patients and families of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other related dementias. Using real-life examples, she views the process of nursing home selection through the eyes of patients and family members dealing with the challenges of Alzheimer’s care.
The author begins her slim volume with instructions on how to recognize a good nursing facility, from staffing to location, interior design and social activities. Throughout, she provides questions to ask staff and management, both before and during in-patient residency. For example, if patients are sleeping after dinner, family members might ask: Is this drug-induced or the normal after-dinner nap? Other important questions: Is there an activities’ therapist on site? Can the manager provide evidence of adequate staffing ratios? How are personal possessions handled and pain measured?
In part two, Gallogly presents a clinical overview of dementia and person-centered-care. Since the focus is primarily on a United Kingdom population and regulations, this section may be less useful for non-UK readers.
Overall, Gallogly’s book provides a useful, well-written addition to the literature on this growing population. The author demonstrates that a carefully chosen nursing home environment can solve problems unique to Alzheimer’s. For example, for patients who suffer from “sundowner syndrome” in which they pace during evening hours, choosing a home with caretakers who walk with patients during this time can help alleviate the issue.
Photographs ably illustrate the author’s points; extensive references are also valuable. Overall, Gallogly’s book will help a family choose the right nursing home, so that they can trust the care and, she writes, “not worry about the closed front door.”
Also available in hardcover and ebook.