Implementing Simple Steps That Make The Home Environment Safer
Pegasus skilled nursing care specialists in Thousand Oaks and elsewhere are safety conscious. They frequently assist individuals injured in home accidents, many of which were preventable. Your career as a home health care nurse includes implementing simple steps to make the home environment safer.
The opportunity to observe an individual’s home environment is one of the advantages you have as a home nurse. You become aware of safety issues that aren’t evident in a clinical setting. You can make a genuine and tangible difference in your patient’s life.
Every year millions of individuals are injured in home accidents. Thousands of them die of their injuries. Precautions you implement serve to keep those for whom you are caring from joining those statistics.
Falls Are Most Common Home Injury
Accidents can occur in every area inside or outside the home. The kinds of injuries experienced are almost limitless. However, falls are the primary cause of fatal injuries in seniors.
Non-fatal falls in the elderly often result in significant injury. Individuals may end up hospitalized and facing surgery. Age has decreased their ability to recover, and they may become permanently disabled.
Fatal injuries from burns are the second leading cause of accidental death in seniors. Elderly individuals do not respond well to burn treatments. That increases their mortality rate.
Falls and burns have physical and mental conditions in common. For example, poor vision can cause a person to stumble and fall. It also increases their risk of touching something hot or starting a fire.
If your patient hasn’t had a recent eye exam, arrange for them to see an optometrist. Perhaps they have eyeglasses that are uncomfortable to wear. That’s an easy fix for an optician.
As well as vision loss, other conditions that increase the risk of falling include:
- Deficiency of Vitamin D
- Foot pain
- Weakness, especially in the lower body
These are all conditions with potential for improvement. Medications are particularly within your purview. Your evaluation will determine if medications are being taken correctly.
Your Pegasus team can assist. Therapists can design exercises and activities to strengthen individuals or relieve pain. Assistance from a Pegasus dietitian can ensure good nutrition.
Reducing Fall Hazards In The Home Environment
Home hazards are responsible for all too many falls. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Inadequate lighting
- Slippery surfaces
- Structural hazards
These are items that you will generally point out to family members to remedy. One of the easiest safety improvements is removing all clutter. Below are other recommendations you can make to help improve the safety of their loved one.
Secure throw rugs if they can’t be removed. Place electrical cords against walls or under furniture. Ask them to install motion-sensor lights in hallways, bedrooms, and bathrooms.
Non-slip mats are essential in bathtubs and showers. Install grab bars in and around bathtubs or showers and near toilets. Spills everywhere need to be cleaned up immediately.
Keep stairways and steps in good repair. Hand railings are crucial in preventing falls. Advise responsible family members to place anti-slip treads on all steps.
Some patients or their families may not have the ability or finances to undertake even simple safety precautions. Use your networking skills to help them obtain the supplies, equipment, or assistance they need.
Home Safety Guides
The Home Safety Council offers several free downloadable home safety guides. The guides include hundreds of safety tips, many of which are accompanied by photos. They cover every type of hazard, with a special section for senior safety.
There is also a room-by-room safety guide that includes items like home security. All the guides are excellent resources that you can recommend to your patients or family members. Implementing the appropriate safety measures can improve the safety of everyone in the household.
The CDC also provides free patient and caregiver resources for fall prevention. You or family caregivers can download the relevant brochures, fact sheets, or graphics. The brochures are available in Spanish.
- Preventing falls
- Identifying and eliminating fall hazards
- Managing hypotension
Home health care often requires educating patients or their family members. Use all the above resources for teaching awareness. Many times individuals don’t realize that something is a safety hazard until there’s an accident.
Everyone knows that smoke detectors are part of home safety. These and similar products are probably already installed. But are those products regularly tested?
You may need to set up a schedule for a responsible person to conduct monthly testing. Other safety practices need to be reviewed or updated periodically.
Although the emphasis is on physical safety in the home environment, creating a calm space is also important. Stress can lead to carelessness or haste, which results in accidents.
Preparedness reduces stress and is also part of safety. Help your patient and family caregivers set up an emergency preparedness kit. Assist them in customizing it to meet any medical conditions.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our home health services include skilled nursing care in Thousand Oaks and our other locations. As a career home health care nurse, you have a crucial role in making the home environment safer for our clients.