Make Home Care Safety a Priority on Each Visit

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Jennifer VanWinkle By Jennifer VanWinkle 
Clinical Product Manager, Change Healthcare
Home care safety check

Performing a home care safety check is part of every initial home care visit, but do your clinicians and aides make it a priority on each subsequent visit? I know that your field staff are juggling an ever-increasing amount of demands, but keeping patients safe in their own homes is taking on new importance.

Two of the five 2016 Home Care National Patient Safety Goals from The Joint Commission are related to patient safety, a topic we addressed recently in this blog. One refers specifically to fall risk, while the other is more general to identify patient safety risks.

I believe there are three aspects to a patient safety check. The first is the safety of the home itself, everything from grab bars in the bathroom and potential trip hazards like rugs. During the visit, the staff member should be aware of anything out of the ordinary that could present a danger.

A safety check should also include the patient’s cognitive function, which can be affected by medications added or removed by the referring physician, the nature of the patient’s illness or co-morbidities. Asking about new or discontinued medications should be a part of each clinical visit and is another National Patient Safety Goal.

Talk to the patient. Does she seem different from the last visit? Is there anything that raises a red flag? If the clinician or aide wasn’t the last person to visit, check in with that person to get her perspective.

Finally, think about the physical safety of the patient. Has there been a decline in her ability to perform activities of daily living? Has she been sufficiently ambulatory, or is she sitting or lying down too much? Special care should be taken with diabetics and those who are less ambulatory.

A clinical documentation software system can help caregivers review care plans, monitor medication adherence and document safety checks.

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