Home health care is an increasingly popular choice for families seeking comfortable and convenient care for loved ones. But while this type of care has many benefits, the home setting also poses some unique challenges compared to traditional clinical settings.
Ensuring patient safety in home health care is one of the biggest challenges. The home setting was designed for living, not for medical care. The less controlled environment means more hazards and less oversight than hospitals or nursing homes. That’s why it’s crucial to find a home healthcare agency that prioritizes patient safety.
Understanding the Importance of Patient Safety
Patient safety refers to the measures and precautions healthcare practitioners undertake to prevent harm to patients receiving services. It involves minimizing risks or adverse effects that may occur in care.
Ensuring patient safety is a priority in all clinical settings. But it’s crucial when patients are receiving care within their homes.
The home has many potential safety risks, such as trip hazards, poor ventilation, and infection risks. Home care patients also have greater independence and less oversight than those in inpatient settings. This freedom increases the risk of falls, accidents, and medication mix-ups.
These extra safety challenges are a cause for concern for many families considering home health care. But receiving care at home has a huge range of benefits, too. It could still be the right route for your family.
Choosing a dedicated home care agency that prioritizes patient safety is crucial to ensuring your loved one gets the care they need. Trained home care professionals can help mitigate many of the risks associated with receiving care in the home.
Medication Management for Patient Safety
When receiving health care in any setting, medications must be administered correctly, at the right dosage, and at the right time. Proper medication management is crucial for ensuring well-being and promoting recovery.
When your loved one transitions from a clinical setting to home health care, your provider should offer medication reconciliation, which involves creating a complete and accurate list of their current medicines. This list is key to ensuring nothing gets missed during the transition. An effective, accurate home medication schedule can then be made.
With home health care, a nurse won’t always be around to administer medication. You may be responsible for your loved one’s medications at times. But you won’t be left to figure things out alone. Your home healthcare provider will offer clear and detailed instructions on the method, dosage, and schedule. You must stick to these. Missing medication can reduce the effectiveness of treatments.
Fall Prevention Strategies
Falls and accidents are some of the biggest risks when receiving care at home, particularly among elderly patients. That’s because there are more trip hazards around the home and fewer safety precautions already in place.
A home healthcare agency will conduct a risk assessment on their first visit. They will then work with you to create and maintain a safer home environment for your loved one.
Simple adjustments for making your home safer for care include:
- Removing clutter and trip hazards (wires, rugs, etc.) from the floor
- Installing grab bars in the bathroom and handrails on staircases
- Increasing bed/chair heights using raisers
- Purchasing brighter light bulbs for low-light areas
- Investing in secure, non-slip footwear
Home health professionals can also educate your family on ways to reduce fall risks. These could be simple physical activities to help your loved one improve strength and balance or safer lifting techniques for moving them between chairs.
Infection Control in Home Health Care
As diligently as you work to keep the home clean, it’s not as easy to guarantee cleanliness as it is in a sterilized clinical setting like a hospital.
Maintaining a clean environment and good personal hygiene is essential for overall wellness. It’s critical if your loved one has a weakened immune system or is recovering from surgery. Poor hygiene can greatly increase the risk of infection.
Home health professionals are fully trained in cleanliness and personal hygiene procedures, such as safe bathing techniques. But as a family caregiver, there are some things you can do, too.
Tips for maintaining a clean home environment include:
- Thoroughly wash your hands
- Wipe down all surfaces regularly
- Wash bed linen and towels regularly
- Deep clean the bathroom and kitchen often (or hire a cleaner to do this)
- Check the refrigerator for out-of-date foods and discard of them
- Regularly allow fresh air into the home to increase ventilation
Caregiver Training and Competency
When receiving home health care, a specialized team of doctors, nurses, therapists, and caregivers will look after your loved one.
Caregivers play a crucial role in ensuring patient safety. They handle essential tasks like providing medication reminders and helping with daily activities. They ensure the home environment stays free from hazards. They also play a key role in monitoring any changes in your loved one’s health and reporting back to the medical team.
Unlike doctors and nurses, caregivers don’t have medical qualifications, but it’s still crucial for them to receive the proper training and certifications.
Caregiver training includes patient care, risk recognition, and practical skills like wound care and infection control. Certifications such as Certified Home Health Aide (CHHA) and Certified Nursing Aide (CNA) show they have undertaken this training.
Patient Assessment for Safety
When you start with home health care services, agencies should offer a thorough initial assessment. This assessment involves evaluating your loved one’s health status, medications, and living environment. An assessment helps identify potential safety risks and tailors the care plan to their specific needs.
In addition to the initial assessment, your agency should offer ongoing monitoring. Continuous assessment helps identify changing safety risks and adapt care plans accordingly.
Emergency Preparedness in Home Health Care
Most home healthcare services don’t involve around-the-clock care. That’s why setting up emergency plans is vital. If a medical professional or caregiver isn’t around, family caregivers must know what to do in case of an emergency.
Together with your home health provider, you should create a preparedness plan. This plan will outline the steps to take in the event of various emergencies, including the medication/equipment you’ll need and who to contact.
First aid kits, a list of essential medications and supplies, and contact information for healthcare providers and emergency services should also be available within the home.
Communication for Coordinated Care
Clear and open communication is essential for their safety when a patient is treated outside of a monitored clinical setting. It’s important that all parties are kept informed and can have a say — including healthcare professionals, caregivers, family members, and the patient themself.
As a family caregiver, you should make sure to report any issues or changes you notice in your loved one’s condition back to their healthcare team. Your input helps shape the care plan. You can also ensure the care aligns with your loved one’s preferences and needs.
Communication and coordination allow your loved one’s healthcare team to address any concerns or safety risks quickly and effectively.
Patient Rights and Advocacy
Being aware of your rights as a patient or their loved one is crucial for ensuring safety in home health care.
Patient rights in home health care include:
- The right to privacy and confidentiality
- Having the person and property treated with respect
- Receiving care without discrimination
- Being kept informed on any changes in the care plan
- Participating in decisions about care
Advocacy acts as a safeguard for patient interests and safety. It ensures that patients’ rights are upheld and their well-being remains a top priority throughout the care process.
At Providence, we advocate for all of our patients. We operate with integrity and ensure that everyone is treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.
Home Health Care with Providence
If you’re looking for an accredited home healthcare agency in the Oklahoma City area, Providence Home Care can help.
Our team of qualified medical professionals and caregivers prioritizes patient safety in all aspects of the care process. We’ll make sure your loved one is as safe and comfortable as possible within their home while receiving the care they need.
Contact us today to find out more.