If you are seeking Homecare services for yourself or an elderly loved one, keep in mind is that having a safe living environment is a very crucial part of the process of obtaining in-home care. Hip Fractures from accidental falls come with a very high mortality rate to the elderly, and is something that should be avoided as much as possible. Taking a little time to do an in-home safety assessment and making modifications where possible can greatly reduce this risk.
Before taking someone in as a patient, a Home Health Agency should conduct an assessment of the home to ensure that the environment is safe, comfortable, and to evaluate if any assistive or protective equipment is needed. This is also very important in allowing the client to live independently in their home for as long as possible, while trying to reduce accidents such as falls, misuse of medication, and ensuring that they have the proper accessibility and mobility around their home.
General Areas of a Home Safety Assessment
1. Fire and general safety:
The house will be checked and expected to be free of fire, health, and safety hazards.
During the assessment, the registered nurse supervisor will ask the patient if any plans are in place for potential fires and can assist in making plans if none are in place.
Homecare provider will inform the client(s) on proper techniques to store and clean any medical equipment at the house to maintain cleanliness and reduce risk of contamination by any bacteria.
Caretaker will also ask about general patient safety and inform on anything that the patient is not clear about, such as fall prevention, and proper administration and storing of medication.
2. Overall Home Environment:
Home will be assessed to see if it is tidy and free from messes that could cause accidental falls or misplacement of supplies.
Client(s) will be notified of any changes that they should make or anything that could be hazardous such as untethered scatter rugs, poor lighting, slippery floor finishes, and mobile furniture.
3. Accessibility and Mobility:
The accessibility of the home for the patient to easily be able to navigate from room to room.
The client will also be evaluated to see if they can easily move on their own or if they need assistance, such as with a wheelchair.
If the client cannot move on their own, further things will need to be assessed such as the width and height of doorways, stairway usage, and carpets that may inhibit mobility, for optimal patient safety.
4. Communication and Comprehension:
The ability of the patient and the patient’s family to be able to understand and communicate effectively about anything that needs to be done or any instructions given will be evaluated.
Any other concerns about health, abuse, neglect, lack of care, or any other problems and concerns should be addressed immediately to take any measures necessary for the safety of the patient.
Now that we have gone over what a Home safety assessment consists of, we will discuss some home modifications to create the safest environment for you or your loved ones in need of in-home elderly care. While modifications can come at a cost, they can often times be lower than the price of an assisted living facility. A discussion of the most critical modifications for the specific situation at hand should be considered.
1. Widen Doorways- This would be especially helpful to those who rely on aids to move such as walkers or wheelchairs, to prevent bumping into the door or having difficulty getting through the door, as this would be very uncomfortable.
2. Install Ramps- This would be very helpful to prevent falls, as exterior stairs could be dangerous for the elderly who are unsteady on their feet.
Indoor threshold ramps could also be very useful for those who use wheelchairs, to transition smoothly from surfaces with different elevations within the house.
3. Kitchen Modifications- Things such as lowering countertops, cabinets, and sinks would be of great help to elderly who are on wheelchairs and have to access these things while sitting down or who do not want to make a great effort to reach for things.
Putting microwaves on stands at an easy reach could also be very helpful.
4. Shower and Bathtub Modifications- Replacing a bathtub with a walk-in shower would make it much easier to walk in and out of the shower and would most likely reduce falls.
Another option would be to add a safety bar in the bathtub or shower to hold onto if balance is lost and prevent slipping.
An alternative to replacing a bathtub that would allow elderly to go in safely would be a bathtub transfer bench, which once again, helps to prevent slipping.
Bathtub chairs are also a great option, so they can sit down and take a shower and not have to worry about slipping or falling.
5. Flooring Modifications- Replace any carpet in the house with carpet with a shorter nap, as this could prevent tripping.
Hardwood, tile, laminate, and vinyl floors would be the best for elderly who use wheelchairs because they are smooth, but might also result in more slipping than carpets.
Here at Unified Pledge, our registered nurse supervisors will conduct a FREE in-home safety assessment to promote safety and provide you with tips on what could be done to make a safer living environment for in-home care.
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