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Health & Wellness: 4 tips when visiting behavioral health/nursing home patients during the holidays

By Susie Fernando - Special to the Daily Herald | Nov 29, 2023

Courtesy photo

When it comes to visiting loved ones in nursing or behavioral health homes during the holidays, being considerate, respectful and engaging during your visit can create cherished memories for both you and the residents.

The holiday season is a time for joy, family and connection. For those residing in nursing or behavioral health homes, this time of year can bring both anticipation and a sense of longing for the familiar warmth of family gatherings.

Visiting loved ones in these facilities during the holidays is a beautiful way to spread cheer and show love. Here are four essential things to keep in mind when visiting nursing home patients during this special time:

Planning ahead

When it comes to visiting behavioral health or nursing home residents during the holidays, the key to a truly meaningful and impactful visit often begins with meticulous planning. Scheduling visits is not merely about setting a date on the calendar but ensuring that these visits align with the comfort and routine of the residents. It is important to choose appropriate times when residents are most receptive and ensure that these visits do not disrupt their daily activities or rest times.

Additionally, preparing activities or selecting gifts that resonate with their individual interests and preferences can create moments of joy and connection that transcend the holiday season. These thoughtful gestures require foresight and consideration but can profoundly impact the residents, making their holiday season brighter and more meaningful.

Respecting boundaries

Respecting the boundaries and preferences of long-term care residents is an essential element of fostering a comfortable environment during visits. Acknowledging and honoring personal space is crucial, as some residents might have varying comfort levels with physical proximity.

Additionally, being mindful of dietary or health restrictions when sharing treats or gifts demonstrates a deep level of consideration. Ensuring that the gifts or treats align with their dietary needs or health requirements not only showcases thoughtfulness but also safeguards their well-being, allowing them to partake in the holiday cheer without compromising their health or preferences.

By prioritizing and respecting these boundaries and preferences, visitors can create an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere that truly celebrates the spirit of the season.

Understanding the environment

Behavioral health and nursing homes serve as havens for individuals requiring specialized care and attention. These environments accommodate residents with various medical conditions, cognitive impairments or mobility limitations, necessitating an environment that fosters understanding and sensitivity. As Dr. Marsha Chinichian, clinical director of behavioral health at Generations Healthcare, puts it, “Behavioral health and nursing homes are more than just facilities; they are homes for individuals with unique needs, each deserving of respect and empathy.”

Understanding the nuanced needs of residents in these spaces is crucial. Sensitivity to the environment, including the residents’ diverse conditions and the challenges they may face, is pivotal in approaching visits with empathy and compassion. These spaces require an awareness that extends beyond the surface, recognizing the individuality of each resident and the environment that supports their well-being.

Bringing joy beyond the visit

The impact of a visit to behavioral health or nursing home residents during the holidays can extend far beyond the moments spent together. Encouraging ongoing connections is a powerful way to sustain the joy and sense of community long after the visit has ended. Sending cards, letters or small gifts following the visit serves as a reminder of the cherished moments shared, fostering a continued sense of connection and warmth.

Furthermore, actively supporting the facility’s programs or initiatives can make a lasting difference. Whether through volunteer work, donations or participation in organized events, contributing to the facility’s initiatives ensures that the spirit of giving and togetherness persists, benefiting not only the residents but also the dedicated staff who work tirelessly to create a nurturing environment.

Visiting loved ones in nursing or behavioral health homes during the holidays is an act of kindness and love. Your presence and thoughtful actions can make a world of difference in brightening someone’s holiday season. Being considerate, respectful and engaging during your visit can create cherished memories for both you and the residents.

Susie Fernando is a project manager at Stage Marketing, a full-service content marketing agency based in Provo.


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