Medtree say due to the nature of the industry, it is impossible to avoid emergencies in a care home. However, you can be prepared for emergencies when they occur, with proper provisions and protocols in place. While nurse call buttons and intercoms are essential equipment, there is a variety of medical requirements to ensure the safety of the residents. Medtree, leading suppliers of medical equipment, are sharing the lifesaving equipment for care homes.
The nursing home has a duty of care to those who are residents, staff and, of course, visitors. Employees have a right to work in a safe and healthy workplace, and residents should receive care that is safe, taking their rights and freedom into account.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires you to undertake a risk assessment. The assessment ensures provisions are in place for all at the nursing home, identifying any risks and providing safe conditions. You can find risk assessment templates online, but it should include:
- First aid provisions
- Identify the first aiders
- Actions in place for serious incidents
- Highlight any unsafe equipment or conditions that must be rectified immediately
- Reassess as to whether the above was remedied
As part of managing the welfare of your residents and employees, you must:
- Provide a health and safety policy
- Assign medical duties to staff
- Consult with all employees
- Provide proper training
As mentioned above, there will be incidents at your care home, but you must do all in your power to minimise the risk. If an accident does occur, you have a legal duty to report incidents under Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). You should report:
- The death of any person, without delay
- Accidents that leave an employee suffering from an injury specified by RIDDOR
- Incidents leaving staff unable to attend work
- Any event that involves staff, visitors or residents being taken to hospital
- All staff must report a diagnosis of certain diseases, as outlined by RIDDOR
Pressure relieving mattress
Most of you will understand the necessity for reporting incidents and risk assessments, but specific medical equipment is required. Reducing pressure ulcers is a priority for all nursing homes, as the resulting episodes can prove costly. Your residents are more at risk of developing these symptoms, and there have been several tests to attempt to reduce the risk of pressure ulcers. One way to ease the pain for patients already suffering pressure damage is to provide pressure-relieving mattresses. At the very least, any patient at risk must have a pressure-reducing foam mattress. For the best effects, these should be used in conjunction with a repositioning schedule. The Pressure Ulcer Hub provides more guidance for any home needing to increase their resources.
Moving and handling equipment
Many residents may need assistance in moving around the care home, which leads to moving and handling practices. Poor training in this area can not only result in resident injuries, but staff suffering also. Your priority should be to assess the risks associated with moving and handling, seeking specialist advice - physiotherapists, professional bodies etc. - and referring to the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. The various equipment you will need to move patients will depend on the severity of the patient’s requirements. However, you should include:
- Selection of hoists: hoists to raise patients from bed or floor if they have fallen, standing aids, mobile hoists, bath lifts
- Different size slings to meet the patient’s requirements
- Handling belts to assist weight bearing, but not designed for lifting
- Slide sheets/transfer boards
- Cushions that enable lifts
- Emergency evacuation equipment should you need to move the patients
- Aids for minor instances, such as walking
Defibrillators are an essential piece of medical kit, particularly for residents that have diagnosed heart problems. A defibrillator can double a person’s chance of life, should they suffer a cardiac arrest. According to recent statistics, the possibility of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) increases from 10% - without the aid of a defib - to a massive 70%.
Sara Askew, Head of Survival at the British Heart Foundation, said of the medical apparatus: “When someone collapses with a cardiac arrest, every second is vital. Defibrillators are an important part of the chain of survival, along with calling the emergency services and starting CPR. Performing CPR and using a defibrillator can help double a person’s chance of survival. That’s why we need this life saving equipment to be available and maintained so that it can be used in an emergency.”
Infection control is essential for care homes, although you may not often hear it discussed. Practising good hygiene and providing training to all staff on the importance of infection control, can minimise the risk of outbreaks. You must do so, as the residents of nursing homes are at higher risk of contracting fatal infections. Biohazard spill kits are essential to have on hand, to ensure that any fluids spilt as a result of illness can be dealt with efficiently. Should a highly contagious viral or bacterial infection, such as Norovirus, raise its head, you will need provisions in place.
You should have more than one first aid kit in your nursing home. Your first aid kits must be well-stocked, with staff fully trained on their duties should an incident occur.
- Various types of dressing
- Eye pads
- Sharp and blunt scissors
- Instant ice packs
- Sports tape
- Triangular bandages
- Sterile gauze swabs
- Crepe bandages
- Wound wash solution
- Deep freeze spray
- Emergency foil blanket
- Safety pins
- Resuscitation face mask
Without health and safety actions in place, you are failing in your duty of care. You must immediately implement an emergency procedure and distribute it to the relevant team members.