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By: Matt Kovalchick, PT
Bath safety is a critical issue in Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) and Assisted Living Facilities (ALF), where residents often face mobility or balance challenges. These limitations can unfortunately lead to falls and other incidents during what should be a private and dignified experience. As a physical therapist, my goal is to offer a comprehensive guide to ensure a safe and respectful bathing environment for these individuals. Witnessing an injury during such a vulnerable moment can be distressing for everyone involved. This guide is dedicated to preventing such situations and ensuring the well-being of those you care for.
Bathrooms in healthcare settings, such as SNFs and ALFs, are often fraught with risks, primarily of slips and falls. The first step towards a safer environment is understanding these risks and being able to recognize unsafe situations. It’s crucial to remember that the needs of individuals can greatly vary; a strategy that works for one resident might not be appropriate for another. As caregivers, your own safety is also paramount. Avoid putting yourself in harm’s way by ensuring you are well-trained and knowledgeable about the proper techniques for assisting residents safely.
Tailoring safety measures to meet the individual needs of each resident is essential in ensuring optimal care. The level of assistance required can vary significantly among residents. It’s vital for caregivers to be proficient in assessing each resident’s unique capabilities and limitations. In many cases, residents are already working with physical therapists, and understanding the recommended level of assistance is crucial. Remember, it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help or to use safety equipment for transfers. In fact, it’s a sign of professionalism and a commitment to safety for both you and the resident.
Adaptive equipment and tools play a crucial role in enhancing bath safety and should be considered as standard in any care setting:
“Effective preventative measures are essential in mitigating the risks associated with bath safety. Even with limited resources, certain modifications and best practices can make a significant difference:
Empowering caregivers and staff through education is as crucial as the implementation of safety measures themselves. Continuous learning and regular training sessions are key to ensuring that everyone is up-to-date with the best practices in bath safety. These training sessions should not only focus on the practical aspects of safety but also foster a culture where safety is a collective priority. When every team member feels a sense of responsibility for maintaining safety standards, the care environment becomes significantly safer for everyone involved. Encourage open discussions, share experiences, and regularly revisit safety protocols to ensure that this culture of safety grows and is sustained within your facility.
Ensuring bath safety in Skilled Nursing Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities is a responsibility that we all share. By being aware of common risks, diligently implementing preventative measures, and tailoring care to meet individual needs, we can significantly enhance the safety and well-being of our residents. It’s important to remember that even small changes in our daily practices can lead to substantial improvements in safety. Try to be mindful in the little moments to ensure that big accidents don’t happen. Each person under our care is placing their trust and reliance on us. Let’s honor that trust by continually striving to provide the safest and most compassionate care possible.
We as humans are a community that thrives on the ability to communicate with those around us. With many means of communicating, our voices, the ability to speak, serve as an especially valuable and empowering tool that cannot be taken for granted.
There are certain conditions that threaten to take away our ability to speak and sometimes our ability to swallow or hear, both of which also impact our speech and communication. These communication disorders can be a result of stroke, brain damage, muscle weakness or respiratory distress throughout one’s lifetime. In other instances, communication disorders are congenital, in other words, they are present at birth. Regardless of the cause or duration of the communication disorder, losing the ability to speak or not having the ability to communicate is scary and can result in feelings of helplessness or frustration.
In the older population, speech therapists, also known as speech-language pathologists, are especially beneficial in the recovery processes following a stroke or in the therapy involved in dementia and other physical disorders. These conditions along with others can result in language and communication barriers. Aphasia, characterized by a difficulty in reading, writing, speaking and understanding language and apraxia, characterized by a difficulty in forming words, are two communication disorders that can commonly result from a stroke. Dementia often leads to difficulty thinking of words, trouble remembering thoughts, or losing attention during conversations. Physical weakness of the vocal cords can also result from multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These disorders have the potential to affect us and our loved ones and deeply impact our independence. Recognizing the value in seeking out speech therapy can help to preserve an individual’s ability to speak and communicate for as long as possible.
In such situations, speech therapy is a remarkable service that can alleviate much of the distress that accompanies communication challenges. Speech therapy is a speech and language focused treatment that can aid in communication disorders spanning the lifetime.
Services include assistance with early language skills, voice and sound production, comprehension, fluency, clarity and expression. The therapist will work with patients to create highly individualized treatment plans and can provide additional techniques for the individual to practice on their own. Speech therapy is most commonly available in hospitals and clinics, but BrightSpring Health Services is one of the few home health companies to offer at-home speech therapy. This has a huge advantage, as it offers the potential to receive therapy in the comfort of your own home, which is important during such a vulnerable time. Recovering from and overcoming a speech disorder can be a long process. It requires patience and support from family and friends, and a speech therapist can aid in the journey to recovery.
The benefits from speech therapy are undeniable. With the help of a speech-language pathologist, you, your family member, your loved one or your friend will feel better, communicate better, regain more independence, and overall experience an improved quality of life.
Image 1: https://tutorbin.com/blog/informative-speech-topics-for-2020
Image 2: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/obtaining-older-patients-medical-history
Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22366-speech-therapy
BrightSpring Health Services: https://www.brightspringhealth.com/services/homecare-services/
Home health care refers to a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home for an illness or injury. This health care option is often less costly, more convenient, and just as effective and high in quality as care you receive in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF). Home health care is one of the most valuable services for those who have Medicare benefits.
Skilled home health services may include:
In general, the goal of home health care is to treat an illness or injury. Home health care can help you:
If you receive Medicare benefits through a Medicare health plan, check with your plan to determine how it gives your Medicare-covered home health benefits.
If you have a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy or another form of health insurance coverage, tell your doctor or other health care provider so your bills can get paid correctly.
Doctors and referring health care providers should provide you with a list of agencies that service your area if they determine that you need home health care. They must tell you whether their organization has a financial interest in any agency listed.
Doctor’s orders are required to start home health care. After your doctor refers you for home health services, the home health agency will schedule an appointment and come to your home to talk to you about your needs and ask you questions about your health.
The home health agency staff will also talk to your doctor about your care and keep them updated about your progress. Home health staff must see you as often as your doctor has ordered.
Services your home health staff should provide include:
AT Home Care and Hospice is a leading provider of home health and hospice services throughout Virginia. Fill out our online form today to learn more about our many home health care services.