A top concern that many families have is whether their aging loved one would be safer in their own home or in a senior care facility. Assisted living facilities are a great option for seniors who need some assistance with daily activities, but do not require 24/7 skills care from a nursing home. However, safety risks and hazards can still exist in assisted living facilities. It is up to facility managers to identify these risks and take steps to mitigate them before disaster occurs. Take care to prevent the six most prevalent safety risks to seniors.
1. Poorly-Maintained Flooring Surfaces
Poorly-maintained flooring surfaces are one of the leading causes of falls in senior living communities. Whether your facility uses carpeting or hard flooring, all walking surfaces should be clean, in good condition and free of damage. Loose rugs, shag carpeting and high-pile carpeting should rarely (if ever) be used. Seniors are prone to tripping on rugs and flooring that are loose or improperly secured. In addition, take steps to ensure that hard flooring is never left wet, which could cause a resident to slip and fall.
2. Inadequate Safety Measures in Bathrooms
Bathrooms can pose significant threats to safety, especially for seniors with poor balance, decreased vision and loss of strength. To increase bathroom safety for your residents, it is critical for facility managers to install a variety of senior-friendly safety equipment, including grab bars, tub rails, toilet safety rails, elevated toilet seats and shower chairs or benches. Facility managers can also purchase towel racks, which keep towels at standing height and prevent residents from stooping over. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to invest in adjustable varieties of these items, which allows the item to be raised or lowered based on a resident’s height or physical limitations.
3. Chairs and Seating that Inhibit the Ability to Stand
As they age, many seniors struggle to stand back up from a seated position. To minimize strain, facility managers can purchase seating options are comfortable and appropriate for elderly users. For example, choose chairs that are designed with armrests. This chair design provides a way for residents to more easily get in and out of their seat. In addition, take care to avoid low-to-the-floor chairs or seating that is too cushy, which can make standing back up more difficult.
4. Obstructions in Walkways and Entryways
Obstructed walkways pose significant danger not only to seniors, but to all occupants within a facility. A blocked walkway is especially hazardous to residents who rely on a walker or cane to get around. In case of an emergency, it’s important that all walkways and entryways in an assisted living facility are kept clear for emergency response teams. Facility managers should ensure that all walking paths to the bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms and common areas are free of hazards or obstructions. Housekeeping staff in an assisted living facility can also take steps to remove clutter from floors in residents’ rooms.
5. Poor Lighting in Living Areas
The right lighting is crucial in assisted living facilities. Lighting should not be too dim, nor too bright. For example, dim lighting can could seniors to trip over obstacles in the dark and sustain serious injuries. Bright lighting, on the other hand, can cause glares and obscure the view of hazards. Facility managers can mitigate lighting issues my choosing soft indoor lighting that illuminate spaces well enough to prevent trips and falls. Use energy-efficient light bulbs and place additional lamps in rooms that could use more light.
6. Lack of Safety Alert Systems in Living Spaces
Most modern assisted living facilities have safety alert systems that allow residents to call a caretaker in case of an emergency. However, facility managers should take steps to ensure that safety alert systems are constantly tested, monitored and deemed up-to-par with industry standards. For example, make sure that safety alert systems have emergency pull strings in case of a fall. Each bed should have an easy-to-reach call button nearby. These systems are a great way to promote safety, prevent injury and provide peace-of-mind to residents and their families.
More Ways to Boost Safety and Security for Assisted Living Residents
At AkitaBox, we make it easy for facility managers to promote safety and security in their assisted living facilities. First, download AkitaBox’s Safety and Security Checklist for Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes, which provides 20 unique ways to enhance safety and security efforts in your facility.
Then, take a look at our latest free ebook, the 2019 Guide to Assisted Living Maintenance and Management. In this resource, we’ve included a variety of vital statistics, current trends and a crucial three-step methodology to help facility managers care for and maintain their assisted living facilities more efficiently. Learn more about the ebook and its contents here.