Risk Management: Pet Contact in Nursing Homes

One of the things many nursing home residents miss most is the companionship of a pet. It is heartbreaking to leave behind a beloved pet when a move to a long-term care facility is necessary. While many nursing homes have regular visits from therapy dogs, many are now opening their doors to permanent dog and cat residents either as facility pets, or as companions for individual residents.

Pets usually have a very positive effect on nursing home residents. Therefore, they are often are used for companionship, psychological support, and therapy. As companions, pets provide affection, engage residents, and give residents something for which to care.

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Risk Management: The Best Protection

When an occurrence happens that puts your facility at risk, is not the time to begin to be concerned about risk management. The best protection for your facility considers three areas: 1) good management 2) up-to-date, reviewed personnel policies and 3) well-designed insurance coverage.

Good Management

All the efforts taken to manage a facility well contribute to sound risk management. Fully attentive administrative staff with a wide range of skills may be the most important guard against major risks.

Careful strategic planning and effective supervision helps ensure organizational resources is closely aligned to accomplishing the facility’s mission, and that staff and volunteers are treated fairly and comply with rules and regulations.

Management skills needed for nursing home supervision include:

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Risk Management: Fall Prevention and Intervention

Fall Prevention

A fall is defined as a sudden, unintentional change in position, which results in an individual either hitting the ground or another object below his or starting point (George, 2000). Falls are a major cause of significant injury and disability among older adults. It is estimated that as many as 75% of nursing home residents fall annually, twice as many as those living our communities.

Many falls are predictable, because a single cause can be identified in about one-third of falls. The two-third of the other falls has more than one risk factor involved and in the long-term care setting, residents are likely to have more than one risk factor for falls. Risk factors are either intrinsic or extrinsic.

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Risk Management: The Importance of Service Plans

Risk Management Service Plans

The care plans, which Federal law requires nursing homes to provide for all residents, can help mitigate risk when developed properly. A properly created care plan assures the facility meets resident’s needs by providing clear, comprehensive instructions for service understandable to all designated care providers, whether or not they are familiar with the resident. One of the goals of a service plan is risk management, the facility must assess the resident’s health, cognitive, and psychosocial status to determine that needs can be adequately served before they move in.

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Risk Management: Clinical Areas of Liability - Nutrition and Hydration

Risk Management Health and Nutrition

Frequently, the elderly show less interest in eating. Additionally, they may also stop drinking as much. Although the actual prevalence of malnutrition and dehydration is not known, dehydration remains the most common fluid and electrolyte disorder among the elderly.

Weight loss can become quite noticeable, and if there is extreme weight loss, artificial nutrition or hydration may be considered. Potential areas of liability include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Failure to consult family members regarding intervention for weight loss (including feeding tubes
  • Worsening of a pressure ulcers or infection because of a malnourished or dehydrated state

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