Finding Quiet Alternatives to Nursing Home Alarms

Finding Quiet Alternatives to Nursing Home AlarmsA recent Boston Globe article raised an interesting question; are nursing home bed and chair alarms doing more harm than good? While some may see them as a disruptive nuisance often the cause of false alarms, just the thought of accidentally setting one off keeps many nursing home residents in bed or in their wheelchair despite being uncomfortable or needing to use the restroom. This whole situation creates a vicious circle that could certainly expose your nursing home or assisted living facility to Senior Living Facility Risks.

At one nursing home, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Roslindale, MA, they’ve done away with alarms that had typically been attached to the beds and wheelchairs of those residents who were at risk of falling. These pressure-sensitive alarms have been used since physical restraints were banned in the 1990’s. Over the past few years, nursing home professionals have asked themselves if alarms really do keep residents safer. At Hebrew, they don’t believe so.

Since fully eliminating alarm systems last year, Hebrew Rehab has not seen an increase in falls or serious injuries, according to chief nursing officer Tammy Retalic. She also pointed out that as residents free themselves from these limiting alarms, they are actually walking more, and eating and dressing without assistance.

Director of social and health policy research at HSL’s Institute for Ageing Research, an affiliate of Harvard Medical Schools, states that this movement in eliminating restrictive alarm devices is meant to give nursing home residents their dignity and independence in terms of functions in their lives.

Pioneer Network, a consortium of geriatric professionals that have spearheaded a culture change in nursing homes, point out that unless a staff member is nearby, a nursing home resident is on the floor by the time help arrives, with or without an alarm. This means, according to Pioneer Network executive director Lynda Crandall, that alarms may be giving elderly residents a false sense of security.

There is still, of course, a need for nursing home staff to be proactive in their care for residents, as no matter what a resident should never be left for a long period of time if they have in fact fallen. This means that instead of poking their heads in a room to make sure residents are okay, nurses and aides should be encourages to pose a series of questions: “Would you like to go to the bathroom? Would you like a drink? Do you feel comfortable?” etc.

If someone has a high risk of falling? Nursing home staff should monitor them often. Ideally, this shift in nursing home culture away from alarms and toward independence is designed to improve residents’ emotional and physical wellbeing.

At DignCARE, we understand that you are in the business of caring for others. This is why our Nursing Home Insurance Policies reach beyond financial protection and extend to offering Risk Management Tips and focus on the care and well-being of your residents. For more information about our products and services, please contact us today at (855) 883-6306.

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