Making the decision to move your loved one into a long-term healthcare facility is one of the hardest decisions to make.
There are things we take for granted, such as getting out of a chair or couch, walking to the refrigerator and grabbing a drink or maybe going into the cupboard for a snack. Once in a long-term healthcare facility, those may no longer be an option for our loved ones.
Here are 4 of the most common safety issues for families that have someone in a long-term care facility.
Many patients will have trouble getting in and out of bed. Caregivers must be mindful of the proper use of mechanical lifts. Caregivers always need to be well-trained and rehearsed to ensure the safety of the resident. The Hoyer lift is not something that a caregiver will know how to use unless and until they are trained and they have rehearsed. When a mechanical lift is used improperly the resident’s safety is put at risk. An elderly person falling from a mechanical lift is at risk of fatal injury.
Ensuring Proper Nourishment
An extremely important daily role a caregiver has is to ensure proper nourishment and hydration. Caregivers need to always be on the look-out for any signs of dehydration and malnutrition of their residents. Just giving a resident a drink at three meal times is not good enough. If a resident does not want the meal or drink offered, staff should offer an alternative. They should never just give up on getting a resident enough food and drink. Maybe a resident does not feel well and wants to sleep through breakfast, that is the resident’s right but it is also the obligation of the caregiver to followed up. When the resident starts feeling better they need to be offered a late breakfast. It is extremely important that caregivers track a resident’s daily eating and drinking. Dehydration can lead to many things, the most common being a urinary tract infection.
Watching for Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary Tract Infections (referred to by the acronym UTI) can be prevented by ensuring the resident is getting proper hygiene and nourishment. UTIs are extremely common in nursing homes. When they go untreated an elderly person can start experiencing symptoms such as loss of appetite, dizziness (which leads to falls), agitation, and hallucinations. Caregivers need to be aware of their residents and any noticeable symptoms.
Taking Care of Skin Tears and Bed Sores
Caregivers must also always be aware of their resident’s skin. They must take every opportunity to observe any changes such as dryness, dimpling or swelling. Elderly skin becomes extremely dry and thin, making it much more likely to be injured. Skin tears can happen very easily but the consequences are often preventable. Skin tears can be caused from something as simple as being scratched by a fingernail. A skin tear can take an extraordinary amount of time to heal even when tended to properly. These injuries can be severe to a person with diabetes or an immobile person. Besides using proper techniques when caring for a resident, a caregiver should also keep the resident’s skin moisturized. Injuries need to be documented and the progress of healing needs to be carefully monitored.
Inactivity, poor nutrition and dehydration are the recipe for pressure sores. Those sores are called bedsores or decubitus ulcers. Caregivers need to be keenly aware of proper positioning. There needs to a schedule for routine repositioning of the residents. Taking the simple step of putting a pillow under a resident’s calves can prevent a pressure sore from forming on their heels. With advanced age comes poor circulation. Poor circulation, immobility and lack of physical activity are all hindrances to healing a pressure sore once one is discovered.
Survey on Patient Safety Culture in Nursing Homes
Prevent Personal Injury By Taking Care of the Whole Patient
Taking care of a nursing home patient must done with a holistic approach, taking care of the whole patient. Health issues are compounding with one issue causing more complicated issues if personal injury is not proactively prevented. For example, lack of nutrition increases the risk of skin sores while infection can increase the risk of falls. A properly-trained, well-staffed long-term care facility can prevent the most common injuries from happening to your loved one.
Nursing Home Injury, Neglect and Abuse Practice Area
Kuehner Law Firm has handled cases across New York State that involved patients with dementia wandering away from facilities and dying, pressure sores that led to death, and people becoming so dehydrated that their hearts and kidneys fail.Learn More