What is the value of a "Wake Staff" in an Adult Family Home or nursing home in Shoreline?

The topic of Wake Staff is often overlooked by people prospecting for that ideal Adult Family Home for their loved one, but it’s one of the most important, simply because it offers an unusual degree of safety and security for their loved one.

“Nothing good happens between midnight and four AM”

It’s a bit of a cliché, but it was once said that “nothing good happens between midnight and four AM”. Nowhere is it more true in the life of a senior. As we age, we seem to gather health issues with each passing year. And when you live in a household of about six senior residents, every once in a while, there is a health emergency that needs to be taken care of. That’s when it really counts that there is a fully qualified member of staff who can take care of your aging loved one.

What is “Wake Staff” in the context of an Adult Family Home?

Wake Staff is a short term for the position of a staff member in an Adult Family Home who is on premises and awake, ready to jump into the care and attention of a resident of that Adult Family Home.

Most Adult Family Homes have several staff on duty during the day. There is cleaning, cooking, medications management and all manner of work to do during the day. Some residents take more attention that others, and each resident – without a doubt – is unique in their own way.

An effective member of your Wake Staff will be able to respond quickly and effectively to a medical emergency in the middle of the night. Yes, ambulances – especially in the Seattle and Puget Sound region – have an excellent reputation of showing up in a remarkably short period of time, but there are several distinct advantages resident Wake Staff have over any service that may arrive via ambulance. Here are some of those advantages:

  • Wake Staff in almost all cases are personally familiar with each of the residents under their care. Many caregivers working as such Wake Staff are actually retired registered nurses, so their ability to handle multiple medical emergencies with grace and ease are hard to question. Compare that to two albeit highly trained medical staff arriving on the scene. They would need to get up to speed on the individuals asap. That’s almost impossible when action has to be taken right away. With many situations, it might be obvious. For example, someone had a heart attack or such. Yes, an ambulance team might have more equipment available to deal with such emergencies, but with (in this example) a heart attack, every second counts.

  • It takes time for an ambulance to find you. Even in the best of situations, an ambulance driver must find where you are. And even when they arrive, they have to gain entry. Is the front door unlocked? Is there someone there to let them in? And without Wake Staff, who will call the ambulance services, or be able to do anything more than simply pull a cord to request emergency help?

  • Where does the ambulance staff go when they arrive? So, they show up in a few minutes at the residence, and they gain access. Which room do they go to? Do they shout and rush around from room to room, or do they know which room to visit? There is a lot that can happen between the emergency and the solution.

  • Wake staff can deal with emergencies without having to disturb the whole household. Let’s say one of the residents pulls their emergency cord. Is it that they just need a snack in an emergency diabetic situation, or they are having a heart attack? It might take a Wake Staff member a few moments to solve a minor problem before it does become something more serious.

  • Wake Staff can manage medications throughout the night. For some medical conditions, medications need to be administered several times a day, perhaps every four hours. Without such a well-managed service, it must be left up to the resident themselves, or the routine has to be adjusted.

  • No Wake Staff means a little more emotional pressure. As we age, our ability to manage stress decreases. Or, at least, our bodies don’t show the wear and tear that comes from stress so much. But later in life, stress-free day-to-day living in definitely high up on my list. Knowing there is staff there to respond to an emergency in seconds has a calming and ensuring effect on all the residents.

  • Wake Staff might well be better trained than any ambulance personnel. Of all the qualifications a caregiver can have to work in an Adult Family Home, being a retired registered nurse has to be high up on the list of must-haves. Imagine looking after six relatively healthy seniors after having spent years serving the needs of dozens of critically ill people in a hospital. It must be a simple enough transition.

  • Wake Staff mean crises can be taken care of without disturbing all residents. What happens at three AM when one of the Adult Family Home’s size residents falls out of bed with a thud? Another resident might hear something, but what are they expected to do? The whole reason behind living at an Adult Family Home is to take that worry away.

Wake Staff is a big deal. Ask about it before you sign up. It will make all the difference.

The next most important factors I look out for are:

  • Food quality and preparation – When you are touring that Adult Family Home for the first time, take a look at how they prepare and serve food. It’s OK to freeze portions of food that are prepared in greater quantities, but the freezer should not be packed with store-bought, boxed food which are often highly processed. That’s different, of course, from such foods as portioned frozen wild salmon sold by Costco. As long as there is a good variety of fresh food in the mix, the food question is answered.

  • Peace and Quiet – There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep, and low noise levels are critical to that. Make sure the Midnight Train To Georgia doesn’t run by the back of the house at odd hours of the night. A quiet night means a good night’s sleep, equals a healthy, happy senior.

More next week!