Managing patient safety in the home is a vital part of providing quality care at home. There are many different aspects to consider, from fall risks to medication safety. In addition to reducing patient safety risks, we discuss emergency preparedness and neighborhood safety. These tips will help you plan for and manage your patient’s needs when providing care at home.
Nurses who work in community settings should assess risks and prepare accordingly. Asking questions about the client’s residence, the safety of the surrounding neighborhood and any previous incidents of violence are vital parts of preparing for community work. Once you know what the risks are, you can explore ways to mitigate them.
Always protect yourself while you treat patients. For example, in Chicago, homicides tend to concentrate in low-income neighborhoods. A nurse may have a visit to the neighborhood to care for a sick elderly patient. While she is there, mobs gathered and started shooting. When she is there, the best approach to find safety first and then contact the police, terminate the visit, and notify your home health agency.
Mobility and Fall Risk at Home
While fall prevention is an important priority for health care professionals, there are many other concerns for patients, especially those on bed rest. Aside from increasing the risk of injury, falls can cause additional complications and prolong the recovery process. To effectively prevent falls, nurses must assess each patient’s fall risk and implement interventions. These measures may include providing individualized instruction, designing safer environments, and implementing frequent reassessments.
The environment surrounding the patient should be assessed for potential fall hazards. Throw rugs and clutter may cause tripping hazards, as can uneven or broken stairs. Other hazards include an unfamiliar environment or floor coverings. Falls can occur even if there are no obstructions on the floor. The environment where the patient works may also pose a fall risk. Unprotected landfills and creeks can also be hazards.
For the nurse, integrating an electronic health record with a validated fall risk assessment tool can be an ideal practice environment. An EHR can also gather concurrent data, such as health evaluations, inpatient and outpatient visits, laboratory and diagnostic tests, and a fall risk assessment tool. These tools allow nurses to use their time more efficiently and collaborate effectively with the interprofessional care team. This allows the nurse to make more informed decisions based on a patient’s individual risk factors and care goals.
Medication Safety at Home for Patients
In hospitals or at home, medication mistakes are often the result of interruptions. Among these distractions are cell phones, radios, TVs, and other devices. To prevent mistakes, keep medications out of reach from children and pets and store them in original containers. When giving medication to patients, identify yourself and let health care providers know about all of your medications and any allergies you may have. You should also make sure that they are familiar with your list of medications and understand which ones you need to continue taking at home after you leave the hospital. Whenever possible, ask for generic brand versions of medications and verify your prescriptions.
The safety of medication cannot be taken for granted. Despite this, a patient’s knowledge about his or her medication may be underestimated. Patients may try household tricks to improve adherence. Nurses and pharmacists must be aware of potential problems and share information with patients and caregivers to improve care. When providing home healthcare to elderly patients, it is essential to ensure the patient’s medication safety and the safety of the caregiver.
Emergency Preparedness at Home
Nurses and patients alike should be aware of disaster preparedness plans. The first step to respond to an incident is to recognize the emergency and begin preparedness efforts. External responses may include search and rescue operations, firefighting, or building shelters for the displaced. In order to protect their patients and themselves, nurses should have a clear understanding of the disaster plan and events surrounding the event. In the case of the Fort McMurray, Alberta, fire, nurses needed to prepare for large-scale care for burn victims and many others.
The federal government has set specific guidelines for health care facilities to follow during an emergency. These guidelines require nursing homes and 16 other types of facilities to be prepared to provide care to patients in the event of a disaster. Emergency preparedness plans should include procedures and guidelines for communicating with patients and family members during an emergency. The American Health Care Association recommends that nursing facilities make their plans available to its members and staff.
Fire Hazard at Home
One of the most common causes of injury and death in the United States is high-rise building fires. Recent HR building fires serve as high-profile reminders of this public health threat. Fire safety is a critical issue that community/public health nurses should discuss.
As a rule, a hospitals and even at home should check its equipment and outlets regularly. The batteries should be changed if the smoke detector beeps frequently. It is also vital to clear all obstructions from sprinkler heads to prevent water from spraying on a fire. Electrical cords should be properly plugged into outlets and not overloaded. Also, electrical cords should not be too frayed or damaged.
Bathroom Safety at Home
The first step to improving bathroom safety at home is to make it easy for your loved one to use the bathroom. Having toiletries within reach and seating around the sink are important safety measures. A seat can help prevent falls, but may not be possible in a small bathroom. A motion-activated night light can provide adequate illumination. A secure and clean bathroom can help prevent slips and falls, so keep it clean.
In addition to grab bars, consider installing a weighted shower curtain in the bathroom. It will keep water from splashing out of the shower and onto the bathroom floor. You can also ask your health care provider for a referral to an occupational therapist. They can visit your home to inspect the bathroom and make recommendations for making it safer. The bathroom is the second most dangerous place in the house, so make sure you have a grab bar in every bathroom.
You can also assess the bathroom’s safety. A bathroom that is small and has a high toilet seat can improve safety. Even a modest bathroom with a high toilet seat can be safe, but you’ll need tools to install safety bars. Other bathroom safety tips include removing toiletries and installing non-slip mats. Installing a toilet seat lift is a great way to improve safety. Adding grab bars to a toilet can also help an older person transfer into and out of the shower.
Infection Control at Home
Infection prevention and control (IPC) is a practical, evidence-based approach to preventing harm to health care providers and patients. Infection control practices reduce the risk of transmission of infection, promote good hygiene and reduce the impact of antimicrobial resistance. Nurses need to know the most common barriers to infection control practices in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and the home environment.
A key part of prevention is education. CDC has developed a series of training resources to help front-line staff protect patients and keep healthcare workers safe from infection. It also includes letters to families about the COVID-19 vaccine and information on how to protect patients and staff. CDC infection prevention guidelines include a hand-hygiene program. Infection control training should be integrated into the quality management program of any agency.