The calling of in-home care for elderly patients is a noble one, but it does require some consideration of safety factors both for you and the person for whom you are providing care. Before you step into someone else’s home, consider these safety tips.
1. In Case of Emergencies
Always keep a list of emergency contacts close at hand—including, of course, 911. This means you should have easy and quick access to a telephone in case you or your patient suffer an unforeseen injury or other possibly life-threatening situation.
2. Protective Equipment
Whenever you are in a situation where you might be exposed to certain household chemicals or bodily fluids, make sure you protect yourself with the proper equipment: gloves, masks, even disposable gowns and shoes in some situations. Your responsibility is to ensure that both your health and the health of your patient remains optimal, and taking the right precautions is a big step in the right direction.
3. Open Communication
Since you will be working inside someone else’s home, it is paramount you can communicate openly and effectively with your patient. As you take your first walk around the home, you might notice certain safety hazards are apparent (e.g., a broken floorboard, numerous obstacles scattered about the floor, etc.). Calmly and clearly, explain the situation to your patient and work on ways to improve both safety and communication between yourselves.
4. Good Housekeeping
Once you have communicated with your patient and established a plan of action to increase safety in the home, make sure you keep up with that plan and prevent clutter and other safety hazards from piling up.
5. Violent Behavior
If you experience any form of violent behavior from your patient, including both verbal and physical attacks, remain calm. If possible, de-escalation of the situation is the best solution.You can do this by speaking in a firm, calm voice, not too loud, and with a steady tone. Don’t argue. Reassure them that you care for them and understand. Breath slowly and deeply, and don’t stare aggressively.
6. Be Prepared
Your responsibility is the care and health of your patient, but you must also be aware of apossible emergency or other unexpected situations that may arise. Have an emergency action plan prepared and ready to implement at all time. Thiswillhelp you take control of a situation rather than having to plan on the fly.
7. Be Aware
Many individuals are hesitant to ask others for help, and the elderly are no exception. Be aware of what your patient is doing and if it has the potential to compromise his or her safety, carefully step in and offer some assistance. Do this calmly and in a friendly manner so as not to insult to an individual who may resent such help.
8. Observe Medication Usage
Make sure you know what medications your patient is supposed to be taking, how much, and how often. In cases of dementia or honest forgetfulness, there is a possibility that your patient may need an extra hand in this.
9. Keep Necessities in Reach
If your patient requires the aid of a walker or cane, make sure it is never too far out of reach. You do not want them to struggle with walking or rising from a seated position and increase their discomfort.
10. Be Friendly
Remember, your job is to ensure comfort and safety, and part of that is beinga goodat-home companion. Talk to your patient and listen to them. You might be surprised what you learn.