Caring for an aged loved one can be challenging, but that’s not the primary reason why most people choose to keep their aging loved ones in care homes or assisted living facilities. Most people choose care homes because they are the safer option. The staff at care homes are qualified and trained to care for the unique health care needs of the elderly. More importantly, they are on hand around the clock to attend to the needs of the residents.
Compare this with caring for a loved one at home. In most cases, no family member (unless there is a doctor in the house) is qualified to provide the type of specialised care that is so important. Moreover, there are times when you just have to go out and leave your loved one at home alone.
While caring for patients at a care home facility can truly improve their quality of life and minimise the risk of being injured in a care home, there are a few safety hazards for both the caregiver and the resident. If you are considering the idea of a care home for an aged family member, knowing the risks is important. This will help you understand what to look for when assessing different facilities so you can make an informed decision.
Lack Of Proper Safety Alert Systems
Having easy access to a safety alert system to call for help when needed is crucial in any care home. This means there should be a call button or pull string near every bed, bathroom, and sitting area so the resident can receive prompt attention in case of any emergency. In the absence of an easily accessible safety alert system in the room, a simple injury could escalate into a grievous problem.
What to look for:
When checking out care homes, test their emergency systems by asking them to give you a demonstration. Ring the emergency button and see how long it takes for a staff member to answer.
Mistakes In Medication Management
With every staff member often looking after the needs of several residents, and every resident having diverse medical needs, the risk of making a mistake is high. Still, it’s no excuse of improper administration of medications. When you place your loved one in the care of a professional facility, you expect them to have proper systems in place to ensure that there are no mistakes in administering medications or in any other aspect.
What to look for:
During your visit to the facility, ask the staff to explain to you what procedures they have in place with regards to keeping track of the medications required by the residents.
Slip, Trip And Falls Injuries
Residents of a care home facility are often older and more fragile. They may struggle with maintaining their balance while walking and even getting into bed or getting out of a chair can be difficult. Care home facilities are usually designed with all of these factors in mind.
Some things that can help minimise the risk of slip, trip and fall injuries include but are not limited to:
- Proper lighting in all living areas – Residents need to be able to easily see any obstacles in their way that could otherwise cause them to trip and fall.
- Chairs with armrests – Older people often need the support of an armrest while getting up from a seated position. In the absence of an armrest, there is a higher risk of falling and hurting themselves while getting off the chair.
- Handrails in bathrooms – Wet flooring poses the biggest risk of falling but it can be virtually unavoidable in some bathrooms. Placing easily accessible handrails near the toilet and shower areas are the best way to provide older people with the stability they need when using the bathroom.
- Properly maintained and properly fitted carpets – Loose or torn carpeting are common causes of fall injuries. Carpeting in any care home facility must be properly fitted and regularly inspected and maintained to prevent any injuries.
Things you can do:
Make a checklist of all the above features and tick them off your list during your visit to the care home. Speak to the person in charge if you notice anything missing and gauge their response. Every missing feature poses a certain amount of risk. You should only choose a facility that ticks all the boxes.
Care home facilities must maintain a policy of ‘Everything in its place and a place for everything’. Things that are not put in their proper place can act like obstacles in the way of those suffering from poor eyesight and those who walk with an unsteady gait. Ideally, all residents should have a clear path from the bed to the bathroom within their rooms, and also from their rooms to the common areas. Large flower and plant pots may do much to beautify the space but they should not be placed where they may pose a risk to the residents.
What to watch for:
As you walk around, do you feel that the floor is cluttered with unnecessary objects? If the care home management is adamant that they would like to leave things as they are, this may not be the right place for your loved one. In a care home, safety should be given priority above all else.
Unlocked Exits And Inadequate Security Of The Premises
Security on the premises is so important. Residents suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s tend to wander off on their own and are at risk of walking out of the facility if the exits are not locked or manned. Care homes must have adequate security to monitor everyone who enters and leaves the facility.
What to keep an eye out for:
Was the door locked and was there security at the door when you got to the care home? Did they take a good look at your credentials and also double check that you had an appointment before letting you in? If the security was lax for you, you can be fairly sure it is the same with everybody.