Sunday, October 25, 2009

Preparing for the Nursing Home: Laundry

nursing home laundryWritten by a former nursing home social worker

If you are preparing to move a loved one into a nursing home, there are many things to consider. One commonly overlooked aspect of nursing home living is laundry. It is such an integral part of life that it should be considered. If not, your loved one could end up with missing or ruined clothes.

How laundry works at a nursing home
In my experience working at nursing homes a few years ago, there was a cost of a dollar per day for laundry service. All laundry is sorted by color but the commercial cleaning products were used in all laundry. The only clothes that were washed separately in their own personalized laundry bag were those folks on the rehab unit. The laundry is placed inside a small washer-friendly bag which is itself then placed in the washer. This keeps residents' items from being mixed together.

With this experience in mind, here are a couple things to consider:

1. Who will be doing the laundry? Often, you have a choice: either the family or the nursing home can do it. Keep in mind that nursing homes typically use commercial washing machines and cleaning products, so if your loved one has a lot of delicate fabrics, you may wish to do the laundry yourself. A nursing home may also charge additional fees for laundry service.

2. Label all clothing. Even if you choose do do the laundry yourself, labeling the clothes is a good idea to prevent any mix-ups. Use a permanent laundry marker or sewn clothing tags. Darker clothing may be more difficult to mark with a laundry marker, so clothing tags are a good alternative. Tops are generally marked inside the collar area. Slacks and pants are marked inside the waistband. Be sure to mark the inside of shoes and any other items the family brings in. Whenever marking a resident's clothing, please mark where the name will not be readily visible while wearing. This is done to promote the dignity and well-being of a resident.

If you use a laundry marker, you may need to review the clothing periodically in case of fading. If you'd like to try clothing tags, you can find them at sewing supply stores. Simply sew or write the name and sew the tag onto the back of the collar area.

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