Working to ensure the well-being of veterans in long-term care facilities requires ongoing vigilance. Across the country there are thousands of Legionnaires dedicated to this role. They are the volunteers who take the time to regularly visit veterans. In order to assist them and the families of veterans, The Royal Canadian Legion’s Veterans, Service and Seniors Committee developed the Legion Family Guidelines for Long Term Care. Copies of the guidelines can be obtained by writing to the Director of the Dominion Command Service Bureau, 86 Aird Place, Kanata, ON, K2L 0A1.
Here is an abbreviated vision of what you’ll find:
Safety and Security
A long-term care facility in effect becomes a veteran’s home. Veterans should experience a level of security, safety, dignity and comfort that allows reasonable enjoyment of their situation and interaction with family and visitors. Staff see to the safe efficient operation and management of the facility. They should be well-motivated, properly trained, compassionate and reliable.
- Is there a plan and practiced procedure for fire response and evacuation?
- Are facilities and equipment clean and are hallways/corridors free of clutter?
- Are staff identifiable and available to residents when required?
For veterans in long-term care facilities, meals, in addition to meeting dietary and nutritional requirements, provide a diversion, an opportunity for interaction and, on some occasions, celebration.
- Are well-balanced meals in adequate portions served at standard times?
- Is the food served in a homelike manner in a comfortable and enjoyable setting which facilitates social interaction as well as nourishment?
Clinical Services/Acute Care
Veterans may suffer age-related limitations in addition to the usual range of medical conditions. Medical services should be available to provide preventative measures, health monitoring, clinical care, consultation, referral and emergency response.
- Is there in-house clinical care available, i.e. dental, podiatry, oxygen, doctors on duty or on call, and nursing services?
- Are identified health issues discussed and resolved in a professional manner?
Medications should be controlled and administered in accordance with the resident’s individual regimen to ensure safety and efficacy.
- Is medication and distribution strictly controlled to minimize errors or oversight in taking prescribed drugs?
- Is there special attention provided for the cognitively impaired resident to ensure the treatments and medications are delivered appropriately?
Access to Spiritual Guidance
Spirituality may take on increased significance for veterans in long-term care. Individuals should enjoy spiritual guidance and consultation according to their own tradition, belief and choice.
- Is professional spiritual guidance available, on call or in the facility for residents of various faiths?
- Are spiritual needs incorporated in the resident’s care plan and noted on the patient’s chart?
Socialization and Recreation
Participation in socialization and recreation programs appropriate to the veteran’s condition can be a major determinant of health and should offer the opportunity for physical and mental activity, interaction with others, and improving outlook.
- Is there a formal or informal social program involving bingo, crafts, art, entertainment, music therapy, sing-songs, etc.?
- Do programs include outings to malls, parks, concerts, fishing trips, country fairs?
Activation and Ambulation
Activity is an important factor in maintaining health and personal dignity. Residents, according to their condition, should be encouraged and helped with activities of daily living and with engagement in wellness and lifestyle pastimes.
- Do the staff get residents that are confined in bed or wheelchairs activated by sitting them up frequently, or by walking those who are ambulatory?
- Are mobility aids, grabs, seats and railings available or installed to encourage safe ambulation?
Personal care seriously impacts a veteran’s health, morale, dignity, sense of worth and social interaction. Facilities should be staffed and equipped to provide the high level of care necessary to assure the life quality of residents.
- Are there adequate bathing facilities and lifting devices?
- Is attention paid to falls prevention and education?
Sanitation is important to the health, safety and comfort of residents, visitors and staff. Measures for maintaining hygienic, attractive facilities and handling laundry, waste, and personal needs should be evident.
- Are residents’ clothes laundered and cleaned as required and/or are facilities available for laundering by family?
- Is there a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly cleaning schedule?
Specialized services not usually available in the facility should be provided on call or through accompanied travel.
- Do veteran residents have access to all services Veterans Affairs Canada is obliged to provide, in the facility, available on call, or through an outside visit to the provider?
- Is a Legion service officer available to a veteran?
There are many supplemental indicators which inform on the quality of care and the resourcing and operation of the facility. Staff and management should display commitment and interest in
initiating common sense action to resolve any care issue impacting the life quality of the veteran.
- Do facilities contact social agencies, Legion branches or service clubs when it is apparent a resident does not have adequate clothing or the financial means to obtain clothing?
- Do interdisciplinary committees exist to address the physical, psychological and emotional needs of residents and to resolve related issues raised by staff, residents or families?
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