The St. Helena Parish Nursing Home is undergoing renovations and upgrades to its facility to give it a more homelike feel for its residents.

The 72-bed home generally stays full, and changing the existing physical environment of the nursing home in ways that improve the residents’ quality of life is most important to the staff, facility administrator Sharon Birch said.

“It simply requires a commitment to improving the living environment for all residents — not to simply become homelike but to become an actual home for the residents,” said Birch.

Part of the upgrades include a new living area for residents with a big-screen television, fireplace, new furniture and a computer station. New furniture was added to the lobby as well.

The staff is repainting the lobby and recently built a new nurse’s station.

Birch said placing a family member in a nursing home is one of the hardest decisions their relatives may ever have to make. She said the St. Helena staff strives to ensure the residents are happy.

As adults age, their homes often are not updated to accommodate their changing needs, said St. Helena Parish Hospital and Nursing Home CEO Naveed Awan.

“Home adaptation or modification can provide friendlier elder living, enabling the aging occupants to continue to live in the comfort of home, and that’s what we are doing,” said Awan.

Although long-term care conjures the image of an elderly person in a nurs­ing home, it is not limited to the needs of older persons or to care provided in nursing homes.

The number of people of all ages, Birch said, with severe long-term health conditions, although small in comparison with the elderly, has grown sub­stantially over the past two decades and will continue to do so.

“We want to strengthen our efforts to ensure that every nursing home resident is provided with the quality of care and of life which they all deserve,” Birch said.

Birch said care should go beyond the residents’ physical needs to include social and goal-directed activities.

Birch said along with the upgrades, they have a lot of activities coming up and would like to begin networking with the larger community outside the walls of the nursing home in order to bring in talent and resources that the facility cannot provide.

“I like to think of it as the ‘power of people,’ when the community and the nursing home staff join together on improving and changing the physical environment,” said Birch.

For nursing home residents, quality of life is highly impacted by the amount of personal attention received from staffers, Birch said.

“We will continue to join together to work to improve the quality of care and quality of life for the residents here who depend on long-term care,” said Birch.