As Americans age, home care safety is a growing issue. Home health care is expanding faster than any other segment in the industry, and nurses providing care in the patient’s home need to know how to keep them safe. This is not always an easy task as most elements that are strictly controlled in a hospital setting are not always in the control of a care-giver at the patient’s home.
With this in mind, we provide a list of five tips to make home patient care safer.
Secure the Patient’s Medications
Incorrect ingestion of drugs can have far-reaching effects. Make sure all drugs, prescription and non-prescription, are stored in their original containers and make sure they are stored in a safe place. Become familiar with the medications the patient is taking and their side effects. Immediately become familiar with any new medications being introduced and keep a watchful eye for any negative interactions with current drugs. Provide for the safe disposal of syringes and needles.
Anticipate Areas where Falls are Likely
Falls are a huge problem in home patient care. Keep pathways clear, and make sure that furniture near the pathways is steady and secure. Area rugs should be affixed to the floor or removed. Insure that there is proper lighting. Keep steps and stairways clear, and make note of areas that could benefit from handrails. Do what you can within your power to make the home as easy to navigate as possible.
Limit the Spread of Germs
Start by keeping surfaces clean, with special attention to the kitchen and bath. Laundry should be done in hot water with appropriate use of bleach and detergents. Make sure there are fresh towels and linens available. Domestic hygiene can not only limit the spread of germs and infection, it can also prevent infestation of insects and rodents. The patient’s personal hygiene is obviously important as well. Hygiene in the home is critically important in improving home care safety.
Lower the Chances of Accidents
To prevent scalding, make sure the water temperature at the water heater is no more than 120 degrees. When using the stove, make sure pan handles are turned away from the front edge where they could be spilled. Use the rear burners when possible. Secure or remove glass items that may easily be knocked to the floor and broken. Take a look around the home, especially pathways, and become sensitive to the potential for harmful accidents.
Provide Outside Contact
Make sure your patient has access to a phone near their bedside. Along with a phone, provide emergency phone numbers and an easily reachable light source. If possible, have emergency numbers pre-programmed into the phone.
In a controlled setting, everything from food to air quality can be managed. That is far from the situation in a home health care situation. Nurses cannot totally eliminate the possibility of accidents, falls, and the spread of germs in an off-site setting, but with a critical eye, home care safety can be greatly increased.