The first step in making the home a safe place for your loved one is to conduct an inspection. Pay particular attention to the hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Special attention should be paid to requests made by your loved one’s medical team. Ensure that you’ve covered the basics.
Mobility is a central focus of hospice care. More mobility means a higher quality of life. To make patient mobility easier and safer, consider some of the following:
- Have handrails been installed for moving between rooms?
- Has a special seat been installed or placed over the toilet for easier sitting?
- Have special bars been installed near the bathtub/shower and toilet for easier lowering and standing?
- Have non-skid mats been placed in the bathroom and around the bathtub in order to prevent a fall?
- Is their night lighting installed in each room?
- Are the fire extinguishers and alarms on/working in the home? Are they inspected regularly?
- Does your loved one have access to appropriate emergency numbers (such as 911, fire, law enforcement, and hospital)? Are they posted near the telephone or in an accessible spot?
- Can a wheelchair clear all of the doorways in the home?
- Are there ramps installed in the appropriate areas?
- Are there any rooms with too much furniture in them?
- Is the home easy to navigate?
If the loved one in the home has a disability, ensure the following components of patient safety:
- Uses the appropriate walker or cane, if applicable.
- Can easily move from room to room. Remove rugs or room dividers that could become a problem, and ensure that floors aren’t slippery.
- Caregivers often carpet their loved ones’ bathrooms using all-weather carpeting. This carpeting is fantastic for preventing slips and falls.
- Is comfortable in the wheelchair if applicable. It is especially important, if he/she is weak, to install a tray on the wheelchair to prevent accidents and falls. This tray can also support drinks, food, magazines, and more.
- Won’t fall out of bed. Install guardrails if possible, but you can also use makeshift guards on either side of the bed to help prevent accidents. For example, you can use the wheelchair as a guard.
- Always ensure your loved one is positioned at the center of the bed to minimize the chance of falling.
Supplies and Equipment
This is a checklist that can help you familiarize with common equipment used with hospice care. Consider whether or not your loved one requires a(n):
- Oxygen tank
- Mechanical Lift
- Overnight commode (bedside)
- Hospital/special bed
Making Communication Easier
In emergencies, it’s important that you have effective strategies in place for communication. To assist with communication, consider the need for:
- Cordless phone with speaker capability. This device needs to have speed dial functionality for quick phone calls. Important/emergency phone numbers should be placed on speed dial. The digital display should also be large and easily readable.
- Cell phone. If you or your loved one often leave the home, this is an essential.
- Medical alert system. This system enables contact with medical professionals with a single button push.
- Baby monitor or intercom. This makes it easy to monitor your loved one when you’re in a different room.
- A bell. Your loved one can use this to request your help without the need for yelling or raising voices.