Safety Tips for Home Healthcare Workers

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These are the top tips from three home home health care in dallas experts to help you stay safe and free of injury when making house calls. 

Keep your guard up

Working in a patient’s home is not like working in a hospital. It is unpredictable so it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Roger Herr, PT. MPA, is a physical therapist at Swedish Home Care Services. He also serves as president of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Home acr health Section. It’s a constantly changing environment. It’s impossible to predict what you might see.

Don’t Overexert Yourself

Home health aides, nurses, and other home-health workers are at greatest risk from back injuries when lifting or moving patients. Some home health agencies have a buddy system which allows two workers to work together to care for patients who are heavy or difficult to transfer.

Mark Lueken MSN, RN clinical director at Verdugo Hills Hospital HomeCare, suggests that you practice good body mechanics if you are working alone. He recommends that you take full advantage of assistive devices and transfer systems. You should also maintain a steady pace and allow for some flexibility so that you don’t get distracted by injury-inducing shortcuts.

Pay Attention to Your Step

Kathy Girling MSW, social services director for Girling north beach health club, was once injured when a porch fell on her while she was visiting a client. Despite not being hurt, she is now more vigilant about where she steps.

Lueken warns that you should not remove your shoes from a client’s house as you could slip, stub or step on a piece of glass or nail tack. Lueken suggests that clients with cultural preferences for shoeless guests wear disposable surgical shoes covers or leave clean shoes at home. He also suggests being aware of potential hazards in your home, such as slippery floors and open cabinets, which could cause injury if you are assisting patients.

Protect yourself

You should follow the following basic safety protocols for yourself:

  • Before you arrive, confirm with your clients by calling.
  • You should have clear directions for a potential client.
  • Maintain your vehicle in top condition and keep the gas tank full.
  • Instead of trying to drive simultaneously, pull over on the shoulder or park in a lot.
  • Keep your car’s windows and doors closed.
  • Your bag should be kept in the trunk
  • In case your keys are lost or stolen, have an extra set of keys.
  • Most importantly, ensure that someone always knows where you are.

Trust your instincts

If you’re driving through a high-crime neighborhood and you see suspicious activity nearby, pull over a block away and call your supervisor or client to discuss the best way to proceed. Herr advises that you don’t need to stop right in front of the doors. “You look vulnerable.”

Girling’s advice? Follow your instincts. It’s usually not necessary to make the visit right away. You should not feel anxious about any situation. Avoid situations where you feel unsafe. Girling advises that you leave if you feel threatened at home.

Do not touch the animals

Even the most friendly pets can become hostile towards you. Girling Health Care’s policy is to not touch any animal. Animals can not only be a danger but they can also distract you from your work.

Are You an Independent Streak?

Autonomy is the key to home care, whether you love it or not. Home health professionals can communicate with their bosses and coworkers via pagers or telephone, but they often go days without meeting them face-to-face. Some home care workers are unable to escape the isolation of the job. Diana Nelms (Occupational Therapist), who works at Holy Redeemer Home Care and Hospice, says that home care is not for those who need constant supervision.

Are You Proactive?

Jodi Stokes, RN of the Visiting Nurse Association of Cleveland, believes that home health professionals are proactive. Stokes offers specific suggestions to a doctor about what she can do to help a patient when Stokes calls a doctor about their condition. Doctors won’t listen to you if your patient has a worse wound. What can we do? She says. “Doctors want you to say, ‘Your patient’s wound looks like this. Here’s my recommendation. Instead of making the patient come in, doctors want them to be able say ‘yes or ‘no to my suggestion.

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