locking resident's rooms

ilavena

Registered User
May 6, 2012
12
My mum has recently gone into dementia care. During this time some of her possessions have gone missing. The home are investigating and at the moment I am happy for them to carry on before I take any further action. My concern is that her room is always open and other residents wander. They have suggested that mum has a key, but she can no longer remember how a lock and key work so its completely pointless. The home have said they are unable to keep her room locked as she needs the freedom to come and go to her room as she pleases. That's fine and and I do understand but I wondered if that is a general policy at care homes.

Obviously I have now removed anything of value from her room.
 

Butter

Registered User
Jan 19, 2012
6,738
NeverNeverLand
I'm afraid you have done the right thing. My mum lost everything - and took everything that caught her eye. It was one great cooperative - and when it comes to sharing dentures ..... well it is very difficult because even the most attentive staff cannot keep on top of the situation.
 

Witzend

Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
4,291
SW London
You have done the right thing in removing anything valuable. Sadly, it's almost inevitable in care homes for people with dementia that things will go missing. Those who wander around will often simply help themselves to anything they fancy and it's virtually impossible to stop them. At my mother's CH I never leave my bag or a cardi even while I go just a few yards to make her a cup of tea. The loss of a nice new pair of leather gloves taught me the hard way! (and it was literally 2 minutes.) The visiting hairdresser once left her jacket with her car keys in a pocket lying around. It took staff over two hours to find it - searching 36 residents' rooms. The thing with dementia is that people are also often very efficient at hiding things, often in extraordinary places.

Do make sure everything you can possibly label is named, inc. anything like photos. At least then they can be returned. Last week I found a stray family photo in with her own collection in my mother's room. I gave it to staff, but there was no name on the back so it will have to sit in the communal kitchen until a relative recognises it.

I think it's pretty normal for rooms to remain unlocked - it makes for a less regimented and institutionalised atmosphere. After all people would not be locked out of their bedrooms at home.
 

starryuk

Registered User
Nov 8, 2012
1,305
Hello Ilavena,

I too, have removed all valuable items from Mum's room. Replaced her expensive watch with a cheap one, bought costume jewellery for her. I think this happens a lot with dementia residents. Mum leaves her handbag all over the place, picks up others and doesn't realise. She has lost a shoe! Everyone has been hunting for it for weeks. One day I found a shoe (not the missing one) in her handbag!! So now I think the missing one may be sitting in a handbag somewhere.

The best you can do is label everything so that the staff have some chance of returning items to their owners (until they lose them again)! At least that is my philosophy now!
 

starryuk

Registered User
Nov 8, 2012
1,305
'It was one great cooperative - and when it comes to sharing dentures ..... well it is very difficult because even the most attentive staff cannot keep on top of the situation.'

Butter, you make me smile...the thought of the dentures being passed around and harassed staff trying to figure out which belong to whom!:D
(Find us a picture pleeeeeease!)
 

stanleypj

Registered User
Dec 8, 2011
10,707
North West
This problem is mentioned fairly regularly.

I find the discussion by turns depressing and infuriating.

These private enterprise are being paid large fees to look after people. That should include keeping them and their possessions safe and sound.

What use is it to a resident to be given the freedom to come and go, if nothing in the room is safe? Would this be acceptable in a care home which didn't have people with dementia in it? Would it be acceptable anywhere else?

This is the 21st century. We may be completely useless when it comes to curing dementia, but we inhabit a world where amazing technologies are omnipresent. There have been threads started on here by people who would love to provide assistive technologies and are asking for ideas. It simply defies belief that there are no homes which are safe.

Even without technology, adequate staffing levels would go a long way to solving the problem.

These companies are having a laugh - all the way to the bank.
 

Fed Up

Registered User
Aug 4, 2012
464
As long as she has nothing of real value like diamonds or of course of sentimental value (if she can remember) does it matter as long as she is happy. My mum has her stuff all labelled but is still found wearing someone else's dress which she liked. So no doubt someone else must have her best M and S slacks etc.
I think they swap like children can do, as mum was not fazed at all by having a red comb and hers was blue. I love the way some social conventions go and that this illness can bring out the very best in people. We have noticed that care is what is important and that can mean a bit of confusing of teeth but mum eats well and is clean and has actually put on weight and looks a lot fitter than when she was admitted in October. In short if she is not bothered why cause yourself more stress, I'm enjoying not washing mums stuff, less ironing, more time with her not subject to sorting out her mislaid things.
 

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
16,312
66
Toronto, Canada
What use is it to a resident to be given the freedom to come and go, if nothing in the room is safe? Would this be acceptable in a care home which didn't have people with dementia in it? Would it be acceptable anywhere else?
I think the main problem here is that the people who are responsible for items disappearing (and sometimes reappearing like magic months later) are the residents themselves. One way to ensure that items are returned to the rightful owners is to have the rooms gone through thoroughly every week or so, to retrieve items. However, that would be a massive institutional invasion of the residents' privacy that I find completely unacceptable.

As for whether that would be acceptable in a care home without people in dementia in it, the sad fact is that it is the people with dementia who are the main cause of items disappearing.

My mother has been in care, first in a retirement home and then a nursing home since January 2001. I have learned to accept and deal with things coming and going, particularly since it was sometimes my mother who was taking things. She hasn't got anything expensive there.
 

zeeeb

Registered User
i agree with just removing all valuable items. The dementia residents have so little real freedom, that the little freedom they have is very important. It would be horrible to be locked into a bedroom or a common area until someone will help you and let you into the other locked common area or bedroom. As it is, there is a sense of freedom within the locked world that they are now part of. That is as good as it's going to get for them in a sense of freedom, so we can't take that away from them.
 

jan.s

Registered User
Sep 20, 2011
7,352
68
When i find something missing i mention it to staff who look out for it and return it. There is nothing of value in his room.
 

chrisuz

Registered User
May 29, 2012
94
East Yorkshire
It is worth mentioning that when a new set of dentures is made, you can request that they are labelled as part of the manufacturing process. At least if they end up in the wrong mouth they can be returned to the owner.
 

Witzend

Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
4,291
SW London
This problem is mentioned fairly regularly.

I find the discussion by turns depressing and infuriating.

These private enterprise are being paid large fees to look after people. That should include keeping them and their possessions safe and sound.

What use is it to a resident to be given the freedom to come and go, if nothing in the room is safe? Would this be acceptable in a care home which didn't have people with dementia in it? Would it be acceptable anywhere else?

This is the 21st century. We may be completely useless when it comes to curing dementia, but we inhabit a world where amazing technologies are omnipresent. There have been threads started on here by people who would love to provide assistive technologies and are asking for ideas. It simply defies belief that there are no homes which are safe.

Even without technology, adequate staffing levels would go a long way to solving the problem.

These companies are having a laugh - all the way to the bank.
Sorry, stanleypj, but I do think you are being unrealistic. In a dementia care home, the only way to stop people helping themselves would be for every single resident to be watched 24/7. Obviously this would not be possible unless staffing levels were increased hugely. Whether you're self- or state-funded, where on earth is the money to come from? And who wants to be watched non-stop anyway?

For the record, my mother's CH, although it's expensive, it is run by a non-profit organisation which I honestly believe tries to do its best for residents, while keeping costs wherever possible out of the stratosphere. Residents are both self- and state funded and the care and rooms are exactly the same for both.

As a family we have experience of 7 care homes over the years (some 15 years, 3 relatives) and I can honestly say we have had very few complaints. And the fact is, people with dementia are honestly not usually nearly as bothered about their things going missing as their relatives.
 
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Dazmum

Registered User
Jul 10, 2011
10,314
Horsham, West Sussex
In my mum's EMI unit the rooms are all locked during the day, unless of course someone is poorly or wants to stay in their room or bed, they do have a choice. I didn't like the idea of this to begin with, but it does mean that mum goes to the lounge or another seating area and has company. The care home does this mainly because one of the residents goes around 'packing' everyone's things and taking them to the door, so I can see why unlocked rooms can be a problem. I make sure everything is labelled and that there is nothing of sentimental value that can't be replaced.

When I go to collect mum and we are in her room, we usually have a 'visitor' to chat with while we are getting ready, and I have seen residents trying the handles of rooms, so I can see how this happens all too easily. My mum has had other people's un-named shoes, coats and glasses in her room, so in some instances, this can only be done by the carers having to guess who they belong to! Anything mauve is usually given to mum as they know it's her favourite colour!
 

stanleypj

Registered User
Dec 8, 2011
10,707
North West
In my mum's EMI unit the rooms are all locked during the day, unless of course someone is poorly or wants to stay in their room or bed, they do have a choice. I didn't like the idea of this to begin with, but it does mean that mum goes to the lounge or another seating area and has company. The care home does this mainly because one of the residents goes around 'packing' everyone's things and taking them to the door, so I can see why unlocked rooms can be a problem. I make sure everything is labelled and that there is nothing of sentimental value that can't be replaced.

When I go to collect mum and we are in her room, we usually have a 'visitor' to chat with while we are getting ready, and I have seen residents trying the handles of rooms, so I can see how this happens all too easily. My mum has had other people's un-named shoes, coats and glasses in her room, so in some instances, this can only be done by the carers having to guess who they belong to! Anything mauve is usually given to mum as they know it's her favourite colour!
So obviously not all care homes have the same policy.

In any care home there will be people with different levels of awareness. When people are discussing the move to a care home, it's often suggested that they move before they absolutely have to as they will probably find the adjustment easier. People also talk of arranging for familiar things that mean something to them being taken along. Forget 'valuable' stuff, think sentimental value. Why should these people have to put up with their things being interfered with?
 

ggma

Registered User
Feb 18, 2012
1,130
North Staffordshire
I tend to think of the items as being borrowed, there is nothing wrong with sharing and as long as things are marked they make their way back.

It is helpful if there is a personal drawer in a room which locks so that helps. I would not be at all happy if I found Mum locked out of her room.

As a family we accept that things go missing in the care home, loads of items that were far more valuable went missing when Mum was living in her own home, so I think it is wrong to focus on the care home element of this losing items is sadly part of the illness and is likely to occur wherever someone living with dementia resides.