My now 91-yr-old mother entered a Memory Care facility on 3/10/21 and "celebrated" her birthday the next day, with no family there. The move-in process was so not what I was expecting, and not in a good way.

The woman who sold us on the particular facility (she is the marketing person I think) had told my brother and me that, if we get tested for Covid and it is negative (duh!), we could both go in and help to get Mom settled albeit one at a time. We were fine with that.

When we arrived at the facility with Mom, we went to the main office to check in, as we were instructed to do. The receptionist came out on the porch and informed us that NEITHER of us could go in! We were not happy about that because we had gone to the trouble to get a Covid test so we could go in! Plus, we are both fully vaccinated. We asked to speak to the woman who had given us the wrong information but, of course, she was "too busy to speak to us." Really?? We told the receptionist that we would wait. Eventually, the RN for the facility came out to speak with us and finally agreed to let one of us go in for 45 minutes. So, my brother hugged Mom, helped walk her to the door of her "house" and made the hour drive home.

One of the caregivers opened the door and let me and Mom in and then went on her way to do something else. Luckily, I knew Mom's assigned room and led her there. About 7 of the 14 people in the house were eating lunch and just stared at us as we walked past.

When we went into Mom's room, the bed was set up, but the movers had broken off 2 of the wheels of the legs (one of the wheels was completely missing) and one of the bed legs! They had not attached the headboard either. The bed was made but none of the boxes had been unpacked. I thought the caregiver(s) should have unpacked Mom's things so they would know where everything is. Guess not.

Mom sat in her recliner from home and just stared. She said she was "not spending the night there" and wanted to go home. She was concerned that we did not have a car because "that man who brought us here had left." She had asked me a little earlier if I worked there and what was my name.

As I was putting things away, I noticed there was a burned out light bulb in the bathroom and the closet rod had no supports on the ends and Mom's clothes had slid to the floor. The shower curtain had not been hung because the bathroom box had not been unpacked.

After about an hour (yes, I did stay longer than my allotted 45 minutes!), two caregivers walked in and introduced themselves and then asked me to tell them what level of care Mom needed. Excuse me?! Why did they not already know that information? Could it be because we never were contacted for a Care Plan visit? It was as if nobody was expecting Mom. Surprise!

I reported the maintenance items to these two women and, to their credit, the handyman did show up pretty quickly to address the issues.

I had expected some introductions to be made, even a quick "hello, I am"..... but it was not to be. When I called the next day to check on Mom, the caregiver who answered the phone told me Mom was up the entire night, refused to go to sleep and was still awake when the dayshift arrived. I asked if the House Manager could call me when she had a minute and she did call. Turns out she was off the day Mom was admitted. That was poor planning on the facility's part, for sure.

They are only allowing a total of two people a day for an inside visit: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. You can only visit every other week and have to have a Covid test before you can visit. Patio visits have to have a staff member monitor them, taking one away from residents' care. Even window visits have a time limit and a limit on how often you can visit! I was able to get an inside visit for 3/15. It is hard to get an appointment with so few appointments available. And, now I'm wondering if it is too soon to visit?

There is so much more to report but no characters left.

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Well, I don't think you are "running hot". I am in the same boat with my dad's (aged 93) assisted living. Zero orientation for the new resident or for the family. Yes, they'll answer questions about processes but you have to know to ask them! My dad has had one issue after another: 4 falls, one with a very sprained ankle, explosive diarrea, weakness in his legs... all in 17 days. I ASKED for a higher care plan and they inferred he didn't need it, they couldn't or wouldn't do it, and that he would adjust. I think I misjudged his care needs but am hopeful that he will indeed adjust. I get to visit only 1 day/week for 1 hour. But I can take him home for dinner or to the doctor. I don't think that would have been possible in memory care so... Everyone at the facility, residents and staff are vaccinated. They are still careful and I understand the need for that. I contacted a non-profit caregiving independent company the other day and they are going to hire me to help my dad. I have to jump through lots of hoops, training, tests, physicals, background checks etc but theoretically then they can let me in more often as a legit outside caregiver. IF THE Assisted living will actually let me in, which I don't know for sure..because obviously I'm circumventing their rules for family. Sometimes he needs something simple... like changing his clocks for daylight savings time... but no one there was doing it. Anyway, my scheme may not work because obviously they know who I am and I'm family, not outside caregiver... but it's worth a shot. I am also fully vaccinated and not planning to be there for hours, just a quick trip to deliver or move or reteach him how some new things work (new phones, new schedules, etc). He's nearly deaf so trying to talk him through things on the phone or video device doesn't work. I feel helpless to help him. So, I am also very frustrated even though it's a high end place.
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You obviously have no idea how Memory Care functions with regard to visits during Covid19. Opening up the state of Texas has absolutely nothing to do with the rules pertaining to long term care facilities and visitation rules.

I have lived thru an entire YEAR of not being able to visit my mother in person in her MC, just at window visits where I was standing outside in Colorado in the winter, in a pile of snow, teeth chattering, screaming over my cell phone to a mostly deaf woman who could not understand what I was saying. Oh, yeah, and the visit was limited to 25 minutes once a week. Outside. And I was grateful for it.

Last Thursday was the first time in 1 year I saw my 94 year old mother indoors, in a conference room, wearing a mask, 6 feet away from me, also wearing a mask, and screaming to be heard. I was grateful for the 40 minute appointment I was able to make on a weekly basis, but not ongoing, and subject to change at any time.

Out of 123 residents in both Assisted Living and memory care combined, not ONE resident died of Covid19, due to the staff's amazing diligence and the Health Departments stringent rules. Thank God.

Nothing is perfect in life. Nothing is perfect in Memory Care either. If you put cameras in your mom's room to micromanage her care, I guarantee you that you will find fault with every aspect of everything, because you're looking for it.

If you were told your mother didn't sleep all night, you were being told the truth. Think about that for a minute. A liar would have said, oh your mother slept like a log.

Consider that she IS doing fine and it's YOU who isn't. If you set your expectations too high for anything in life, you'll be disappointed. Give your mother a chance to acclimate to a new environment. Give the staff a fighting chance to get to know your mother before you rip them a new one. Pick your battles because you'll need to have staff members you can call on for help when you need to. If you burn all your bridges now by being unreasonably demanding from the get-go, you're making your mother's life and your life much harder than necessary.

Give everyone a break and give yourself one too. I'm sure this isn't the Memory Care's first rodeo, and your mom isn't their first resident. 14 residents and 3 caregivers is lovely. It's a homey environment. She'll be fine.

When you do go visit, smile. Relax. Make sure she's clean and dressed in clean clothing and looking healthy. Give her some time to settle in before you go visit, that's my suggestion

It's common for residents to wander into each others rooms in Memory Care, unless the doors have locks. Some places do, some don't. I chose a MC that has locks on each door so nobody can go into my mothers room but her and the caregivers.

Expect hearing aids to get lost. We had a resident EAT another residents hearing aid at the Memory Care I worked at last year. Chewed it right up. Things go missing. That's life in MC. Expect some level of chaos to exist because all the residents have dementia. And be sure to always always thank the staff profusely for all they do for the residents they care for in spite of the constant chaos.

It's a learning curve for newcomers to the new world of MC. Try not to apply YOUR rules of normal to a situation that's anything BUT normal.

I'm sure my comment isn't what you were looking for, but it's a reality check. We all need those from time to time.

Best of luck.
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texasrdr22 Mar 2021
Uhhh...thanks for your wise reply. A reality check is a good thing to have. Point well taken. Advice from someone who has "been there, done that" is always appreciated. Just so you know, I am always polite and grateful to the caregivers in the two times I've had contact with any of them and always will be. And, you are right. I AM a newcomer to this and will constantly learn and adapt to the situations that present themselves.
Well, I'm not sure where to start. I guess I would say that you should perhaps stop for a minute to breathe and make sure all this outrage is not related to the trauma of having to put your mom in a nursing home rather than gross failures by others.

I don't know what kind of facility she's in, but I wouldn't expect them to unpack and move my mom into her room. That's your first misconception.

The movers aren't the nursing home, so I'm not sure why they're failures are lumped in with the nursing home. Misconception #2.

The house manager was off the day Mom moved in. Did you ask her if she'd be on duty? Was it necessary for her to be on duty for an admission? If not, then that's Misconception #3.

The caregivers asked you what level care Mom was to have. You're SHOCKED they didn't know. Well, they probably could have looked it up on her admission papers, but they asked you what you expected. Probably no harm, no foul, but it seems like you expected them to be 100% up to speed on your mom prior to her showing up and shouldn't want to know what you were looking for. I'd have been glad to confer with them on my expectations.

I could go on, but I think the biggest problem here is 1. You aren't familiar with how this place operates, and 2. You're micromanaging everything, and 3. You don't understand how the whole Covid thing is working in these nursing homes.

I'd advise this -- 1. Give yourself some time to familiarize yourself with the place and how it operates. Make friends with someone there -- her main caregiver, the nurse on duty, even the salesperson. Don't come in with guns blazing, because just like a helicopter mom at a school, you can cause trouble for your child/mom by being "that" mother/loved one. Try to calm down a bit.

2. Related to #1 -- learn how they do things. Just because they aren't doing things the way you'd do things doesn't mean they aren't doing it correctly. As far as the showers go, I certainly hope your camera (a gross invasion of privacy IMO) wouldn't show your mom stark naked or being showered. In my mother's place, unless I had a camera in the shower itself, I'd never know that she was getting showered. It happens in a room down the hall, not in her bathroom, because she needs a lift to assist the caregiver.

3. Don't assume a caregiver is supervising the patio visits, "taking one away from residents' care." How do you know who's supervising the visits? At my mother's place, the visits are supervised by any number of people -- the activities director, the sales manager, or even the executive director. They're all working together to ensure families can visit their loved ones, and whoever is available jumps in to help. I'm grateful for all they've done to keep our loved ones safe, because it's been a nightmare for them as well as for us. When my mother caught Covid in the hospital, she was cared for spectacularly at her nursing home when she tested positive. She had a dedicated caregiver with her 24/7 for almost three weeks, and they took such great care that no one else in the facility came down with it.

Every NH can make their own rules on visiting.

I'm not trying to be hard on you, but I think you're coming in awfully hot with this place, and from what I read, your biggest justifiable complaint is the curtain rod. Just keep in mind that your mom's ability to acclimate with have a lot to do with how you act. If you're constantly criticizing everything they're doing or not doing to your satisfaction, she'll pick up on that and hate it there. She has dementia, and she's never going to be really happy about anything, but keep in mind that much of that has to do with the upheaval of being moved to an unfamiliar place. Becoming familiar with the new place takes time when someone is perfectly cognizant, so don't project your feelings and opinions on her. She can't process any of this the way you would, so try to keep cheery and upbeat and emphasize the positives. In time, you'll both set
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texasrdr22 Mar 2021
I apologize if my post came off as if I were "coming in hot". I consider this forum to be a place where I can vent frustrations and get practical advice from those who have been where I now am in my Mom's journey. I really had no idea what to expect with memory care and thought that, for the monthly fee, the care would be excellent. And, by comparison, maybe it is.

I truly feel for all of you who had loved ones in a facility during this whole Covid nightmare. I can't imagine not seeing my loved one or being able to hug her.

Your points are all well-taken. Please know that I am always cheerful and upbeat when I see Mom. I never complain about ANYTHING to her!

My dream is that she settles in there and feels comfortable and makes friends. She already seems to be comfortable wandering around the common area of her "house" and I've been told she is eating better and taking part in activities. She also has some ladies who live there who are checking on her and "hanging out" with her. I am truly amazed by this!

She has only been there 12 days. It is a work-in-progress and a learning process for me. Thank you for your helpful reply.
With deepest respect, if it is possible for a residential care center to prevent residents from exposure/infection from Covid, I’ve gained great respect for their efforts.

Every one of us who care for a fragile elderly LO have suffered in some way from the damages caused by the last year.

My LO, who at 92 has survived 2 Covid infections, has now been vaccinated, and I, who experienced a ”mild” Covid infection, will receive my second vaccination next week, quarantine for two weeks more, then have either an outdoor visit or take a quick test and be able to visit inside.

My LO was originally infected by a nonsymptomatic carrier, and I give nothing but the deepest credit and most sincere thanks to her residence for the care she received. We are in a “hot spot” and tragically it became obvious fairly early on that what was best for the residents who could potentially survive the illness, was not necessarily the least painful in terms of the separations that were necessary to keep them safe.

After her first infection, I longed for nothing more than to tell her how much we loved her and how glad we were that she’d survived. I received that gift in October. When she became ill a second time, I longed to be able to hug her and pat her hand and tell her we’d be back soon. By the Grace of God I have hopes to be able to do that in three more weeks.

One visitor whom she knows saw her a week ago, and thinks that all things considered, she’s still pretty much herself. I’m grateful for that.

I grieve for those who have lost Dear Ones, and I grieve for those of us who have lost precious time with those who have survived this horror. I grieve too for those who labored valiantly to bring their fragile survivors through. Many of the caregivers whom I loved before the pandemic have been ill, some have died, and no one, myself included, will be the same for having experienced this.

Hoping that all of us who are looking forward to visits will soon be rewarded.
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Are you able to speak to your mother on the phone?
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What a total mess up situation. I do feel your frustration.
While your mother is in the current facility, can you actively pursue seeking another one for her? One where you can perhaps visit and see for yourself - not just a scheduled 'tour'. With so many states easing on restrictions, can you make unscheduled visits to see how things are going? Different times of day? Different days? That way you get a true sense of the facility and the caretaking. As far as getting used to a facility, I would tend to agree that it takes a good 3 months for someone to adjust - and during that time, I found that if I limited my visits that the senior would start depending upon the facility caretakers. However, if they are as inattentive as you describe, I would be concerned.
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texasrdr22 Mar 2021
Even though the state (Texas) has been fully opened by our governor, the MC facility is still limiting visits to 1 per week inside. You have to have an appointment to visit and they are very difficult to get.

I placed a camera in Mom's room and it is both a blessing and a curse to see the level of care she is receiving. I have yet to see a caregiver take her into the bathroom and help her with toileting. I have seen no indication that she has had a shower in the 10 days she has been there. Other residents just seem to wander in and out of her room and look around at her "stuff".

I have had a meeting with her "House Manager" and the facility nurse to express my concerns and the House Manager is excellent at telling me what I want to hear. According to her, Mom is doing fantastic! She said Mom is getting "excellent care". I guess that includes neglecting to remove her hearing aids and put them on the charger at bedtime? Never checking to see if she needs a change of undergarment? Never seeing that her hair gets brushed or teeth get brushed? Waking her up at all different times in the morning and not on a schedule? Making her go to bed at 8pm? If that is "excellent" then we are in big trouble! And this is supposed to be a "high-end" facility!
I just moved dad from my house to assisted living at a high end sort of place and am experiencing some of what you are as well. Very little orientation either for my dad or for us as his family. We don't know who to talk to about what... or how to make appointment for the 1x week visits and all the open appointments were booked a week and a half out. Difficult considered we were still trying to get him moved in and settled and we forgot some things.

They let us come and go a few times but now are cracking down. They will let private agency caregivers come in and we had a few coming into our home... PT and home care people so I 'upped" their hours and now they are doing for him with me texting them if there is something that needs done. They are doing a great job, thank goodness...because the care he is getting otherwise is pretty impersonal. And I have no way to directly talk to a caregiver since we were never introduced.

So now my next idea is to talk to an agency we've been using and ask them to make me an employee and assign me to my dad. Yes, he'll be paying me an inflated rate for my "services" but I can give him back my net check. At least I could get in there if I wanted to...even for a few minutes.

For example, today is daylight savings and all his clocks and watches are wrong. He doesn't know how to set them. He wants some things moved in his room...

Both my husband and myself are double vaccinated AND so is Dad. AND so is every other resident in the place and all the employees (or so they touted). Hopefully things will open up more but it could also go the other way.

I installed cameras in his rooms and that has been a lifesaver. I can see the caregivers checking on him and I can see what the agency caregivers are doing and even talk to them through the camera if I need to. (I don't do that with the facilities caregivers but with the PT and outside people I've hired). I can also text and call these outside people directly to let them know any concerns. It seems like overkill but I do understand that the people working there are really really busy and must stay on a schedule.

I also set up a tablet in his room that draws on his google calendar and I put the events at the facility on there as well as doctors appointments etc. This helps the outside people know what's happening and they can bring him to an event if there is something going on. It's an app called "Dakboard" if you are interested.

I also installed a Facebook Portal so he can do video calling. Mostly though he enjoys seeing all his pictures and it helps his memory and sparks conversation with others.

So it's a high tech room for sure!
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texasrdr22 Mar 2021
Mom is in a "high-end" small-house facility based on a concept started by the Danes. Each "house" hold 16 people max and right now Mom is #14, I think. I have no idea how she is being treated nor do I have any trust that whomever answers the phone when I call will tell me the truth. That's primarily because I don't really know any of them.

Mom is not tech savvy at all. I worry that she will not even know how to use the TV remote which has only 4 buttons! She certainly will not be able to use the bluetooth feature of her new hearing aids. No matter how many times I went through the process of putting the aids on the charger with her, she was never able to do it. I hope the caregivers will do that for her.

I am installing a camera tomorrow during my inside visit. I also plan to ask if anyone is inviting or coaxing Mom to attend activities. There are only 3 caregivers on duty during the day, so my guess would be that Mom has no clue that activities are happening and just sits in her room staring into space. I wonder if they even come get her for meals.

She has lost her ability to find her words and sometimes calls objects by the wrong name. I can't see her approaching anyone to make friends as she is keenly aware of her inability to communicate clearly most of the time.

Having outside caregivers sounds wonderful, especially since your Dad is familiar with them. I think Mom's facility requires to get someone from a specific agency (they probably get a kickback!) if you choose to have additional help.

She probably won't know me tomorrow but that's okay. She will know that she is loved. I think I may even take her a belated birthday cupcake!

Thanks for you reply. Things rarely go as promised or planned.
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What a cascade of failures, and of inadequate planning as well as dishonesty!  

I also think you have recourse, if nothing more than a complaint and reporting the moving company to the BBB, or to a moving industry representative if there is such a thing.    Damaging furniture is inexcusable.  I assume they have made restitution or fixed the legs?

I would also consider reporting the marketing rep to a state monitoring organization if there is one.   And I'd be documenting everything with plans for a sit-down meeting to analyze what went wrong and how to correct it, and ensure these goof-ups don't occur again.

But the bigger question is whether or not your mother could ever get comfortable being there, with all the screw-ups.   

Personally, I'd be documenting, and pushing for visits now, to continue documenting if you decide to move your mother elsewhere.
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texasrdr22 Mar 2021
It definitely was a failure, at least for me.

I contacted the moving company to report the broken items, and after getting the run-around, finally the owner of the company called me from Mom's room where he was examining the broken bed legs. He apologized and told me he was going to order two new wheels and see that the other leg was repaired. He said if that doesn't work, he will buy her a new adjustable bed base. I thanked him for the call and told him it was not good that my 91-yr-old mother had to sleep at a slant. I wanted to ask him to have the 2 mover guys give me back the $100 tips I gave them!

As for the "marketing rep", I am not the only one who has received misinformation from her. It seems to be a common occurrence. The problem with visitation, even though the governor of Texas has opened up the state 100%, Mom's facility keeps telling me they are governed by HHS (Health and Human Services) but, in reality, it is their lack of staffing that is the problem. Yes, of course I'm glad that they are keeping the residents safe but all are fully vaccinated as are staff. So am I. Frustrating, to say the least.

I will have some indication after my visit tomorrow but most everyone on this Forum says that sometimes it will take 3 months for Mom to start to acclimate. I see it taking much longer than that.
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