The Assisted Living industry is rapidly changing – acuity is on the rise and resident mobility is decreasing. This means the need to lift and move residents is increasing, and so is the risk for staff injuries.
That’s why many providers are reevaluating their safe resident handling and mobility programs. Starting or expanding your program is the first step to helping reduce the risk for injuries, staff turnover and workers’ compensation costs. Here are three ways to get started:
1. Evaluate your current program
Creating a safe, welcoming environment for your residents and staff starts with investing in a safe resident handling program for your community. Using an assessment guide is a great place to start thinking about how you can introduce, implement and maintain a culture of safety. It can help you understand the current landscape and evaluate how well your community is equipped to handle rising acuity. Working through a step-by-step guide that suggests products and next steps can make it easier to implement a program.
Asking yourself a few key questions, like “Do I have an established process for routinely evaluating a resident’s abilities for moving and transferring?” or “Have I seen increases in staff injuries or workers’ compensation costs?” can help you see how your community stacks up.
2. Create a safer environment
Leverage the latest innovations in design and product selection to ensure your community is safe for residents. This may include removing potentially hazardous furniture that can make mobility difficult, like rugs and cords. Consider modifications that support safe mobility and transfers in resident rooms, bathrooms, living and community spaces, wellness centers and outdoor spaces. Creating a safer environment goes beyond lifts and transfer devices. Sometimes a simple modification, like motion-activated bed lights, can help residents maintain independence.
Finding the right transfer and mobility equipment can make the process easier for residents and staff. Identify unique resident needs, like bariatric and dementia care, to help you recognize the types of equipment and weight capacities needed for your program.
3. Educate staff and residents
Assess current staff competencies and consider how you can enhance knowledge, skills and attitudes for safe resident handling and mobility. Providing education and training annually, upon orientation and with the introduction of new products or technology is a good place to start. You may also want to reach out to equipment manufacturers and distributors for training programs for caregivers. Plus, it’s important to consider training methods that meet the needs of your staff. A combination of online learning and live practice sessions with equipment can be effective.
Residents who actively participate in their healthcare are more likely to adapt behaviors that promote and maintain health. Engage the resident by reviewing assessment results, providing information on how to reduce the risk for falls, or showing exactly what happens during the use of a mechanical lift.