Retirement homes, when well managed, provide a place of comfort for elderly residents who have chosen to live there (in many cases at the request or insistence of their own family). These facilities also provide families with the faith that the facility is doing everything in its power to make their stay a pleasant experience, both socially and from a safety standpoint.
Retirement homes risk management is generally described as a program whose intent is to reduce the odds of preventable injuries and accidents as well as minimize the financial severity of any claims that may be filed. Litigation against retirement homes and their personnel does occur, perhaps more frequently than one cares to admit, which makes risk management planning an important aspect of day-to-day patient care.
Retirement facilities often face scrutiny
Long-term care (LTC) facilities, while providing a variety of useful services to residents, are burdened by their potential for accidents. This is due to the fact that the odds of an injury occurring are significantly higher in the frail, elderly population they serve. Caregivers on every level must understand the vast spectrum of responsibilities required (under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1987), and realize their role in monitoring those areas of high litigation risk.
The risk factor has been elevated in recent years as LTC facilities have expanded their participation in sub acute care programs for sicker patients, along with offering increased medical services, such as central line administration, wound care, bariatric care, patient-controlled analgesia, peritoneal dialysis, and chemotherapy.
Caregivers must take steps to minimize exposures
For residents that have been identified as high-risk, the plans to provide care should reflect the facilities efforts to reduce falls in an individualized fashion. This should include assessing new admissions for risk factors associated with falls and they should maintain a fall prevention program. Any program should include educating the resident, their family, and all involved staff concerning safety procedures and promoting a safe environment within the facility.
Another major concern is residents that may be experiencing nutrition and hydration issues. These are obvious areas of potential liability. Problems often arise due to unexplained weight loss, failure to consult family members regarding intervention for weight loss, or an infection or pressure ulcer that becomes more severe due to the presence of an individual suffering from a malnourished state.
As part of the facilities retirement homes risk management planning, implementing realistic care plans during meetings that include family members is perhaps the best way to set goals moving forward.