That smell is a combination of excrement and overpowering cleansers. Ugh…
Generally, it’s an indicator of a poorly run facility where residents aren’t being toileted or changed at regular intervals. It’s a combination of ammonia from stale urine, human feces and sometimes even C.difficile, which is a nasty infection that makes the stool smell abominably bad.
Many elderly people are incontinent with no control of bladder, bowel, or both, and only with proper cleaning and disinfecting of the environment will the smell dissipate. That also includes taking people to the bathroom and cleaning up incontinent patients promptly.
It’s very challenging because the workload in long-term care facilities is extremely heavy and everyone is running for 8 or 12 hours a day. However, management ought to make it a priority to ensure that everyone is clean, and that the environment has a pleasant aroma because this odor indicates the neglect of the residents and of general cleanliness.
So, what is the fix?
First, the removal all carpeting, because it is so difficult to clean, so expensive to keep clean, and so difficult to roll wheelchairs over. Also, resident respect and care must be a top priority. Staff should be encouraged to be kind and caring with the fragile people entrusted to them. And, frankly, those who do not adopt that attitude should be fired. Additionally, the recruitment of volunteers and support groups who will collaborate with the facility and the residents to provide information and resources can help provide a better quality of life. Lastly, caring loved ones must be willing to hold accountable all who touch the lives of the residents of the facility.
With these changes, the facility will become noticeably different. There’s a lot more to it than cleanliness alone. Staff should be required to diligently maintain the facility and its integrity. By consistently striving to be the best, plus support from volunteers and family members, Nursing Homes DO NOT have to be ghastly places.
It’s a personal choice based on the priorities set by the owners.