Caring Currents

Nursing Homes and Diapers

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Adult diapers hardly seem like a hot media topic. But they’ve been just this in Canada lately, thanks to the Ontario Health Minister saying he’ll wear a diaper to judge their comfort. This in response to claims that the Canadian government doesn’t spend enough money on staffing in state-run nursing homes, leaving residents in soiled diapers. (In spite of his threat, George Smitherman, the health minister, apologetically backed down from his diaper test drive, as reported by lots of news sources, including the Toronto Star.)

Check out blogger Rositta’s (a self-described cynical "middle-aged broad") take on the issue.

Wherever your parents happen to live, if they're in a nursing home, staffing is critical, especially when it comes down to how best to care for our elders in diapers. Talk about being vulnerable. They are -- especially when we can't check on them as often as we'd like.

Being a strong advocate can help. Here are some tips:

  • Ask your parents’ nursing staff how often they change diapers. Some do this on a regular schedule, regardless of use. Others change as needed. Ask to see charts documenting changes.
  • Talk to your parents about their diaper comfort. Not an easy topic, I know, but they may be relieved to confide in someone. Are they feeling OK, or can something be done differently.
  • Check your parents’ bodies for rashes or redness in the private areas. If you see anything unusual, immediately tell and show the nursing staff.
  • Talk to staff about any concerns. Thenwork with them on changes.

If you aren’t feeling reassured, consult with your parents’ long-term care ombudsman, a federally funded service that helps nursing home residents address care concerns. To find your parents’ ombudsman, use this handy state-by-state tool from the National Citizen’s Coalition for Nursing Home Reform.

Image by Flickr user jcortel under the Creative Commons attribution license.