Room Changes in the Nursing Home: A Customer Service Opportunity

Posted by Dr. El - September 13, 2011 - Communication, Transitions in care - 6 Comments

“What the f***!”  Ms. Webster was red in the face, shouting at the nurse who’d just arrived for the evening shift.  “The day nurse told me I was moving to the third floor — now you tell me I’m not?  You people better get your s*** together!”  She began hurling onto the bed the belongings she’d gathered into a giant trash bag earlier in the day.  She muttered profanity as she did so.

“I’ll make some phone calls and find out what’s happening,” the evening nurse said nervously and then rushed out of the room.


There’s been a lot of attention paid recently to transitions in nursing care: moves between the hospital and nursing home, and moves between home and the hospital or nursing facility.  Another transition that deserves attention is room changes within the nursing home.  The importance of this passage is often overlooked, resulting in confusion, anxiety, and distress.  Properly handled, room changes are an opportunity to create a positive customer service experience within your facility.  Here are some points to consider:

  • Prepare the resident (and family) for the change by informing them as far in advance as possible.
  • Attend to the emotional reaction to the move, especially if it signals a shift from being a short-term resident to becoming a long-term resident.  Consider a psychology referral to facilitate adjustment to the new floor rather than waiting until problems become entrenched.
  • Try to make room changes early in the day so that one shift handles the entire transition.
  • Do an “idiot check” to make sure all property is transitioned to the new room.
  • Label clothing quickly and make the resident aware of the reason the clothing is missing.
  • Provide an introduction of staff and a pleasant welcome to the new unit to reduce anxiety.
  • Introduce the transferred resident to another resident or two with whom they might get along.
  • Ask a long-time resident on the floor to welcome the new resident.
  • Create a policy that guides transitions so that “short-term” floors stay short-term, avoiding the resentments that crop up when one resident is reluctantly moved while another resident who has been there longer remains on a supposedly short-term floor.