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Hazards In Care Homes - Checklist

Nov 20 2017, 13:13 PM

Those who work in a health and social care institution have a duty of care, as they are looking after vulnerable people. Employers also have a legal responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.

It is important that any risks to those who are being cared for and the care workers themselves are managed sensibly. This guide plans to help those who are providing and managing homes enjoy a better understanding of the hazards that can occur within care homes, if proper care is not taken.

Hazards in a care home

Care homes are different from other workplaces, this is because they are not just places of work but also homes for residents. Therefore it is important that they are places where everyone’s health and safety is a high priority.

Hand washing

One of the biggest hazards in care homes is not maintaining infection control. Focusing on hand hygiene is one of the biggest steps to overcoming this hazard. This includes encouraging the use of hand sanitisers. Dispensers should be mounted on walls around the care home and in locations where they can be safely accessed. Hand sanitiser plays a vital part in killing germs on the hands, so it is important to make sure they are used before and after dealing with patients.

Wheelchairs in the corridor

Wheelchairs in corridors can be a trip hazard. To negate this risk, the best thing to do is place wheelchairs in the corner of the room and folding when not in use. People who will be affected by this are the staff, visitors and the residents of the care home. All wheelchairs should be put away when not in use and only taken out when needed, therefore avoiding causing hazards. Maintenance staff  should also regularly check the wheelchair to see if it is secure and safe for residents to sit in. They should be in full, operational order at at times.

Spills on the floor

Spilled water on the floor is an obvious hazard. To avoid the risk of someone getting hurt by slipping on water, the first thing to do is put down a wet floor sign warning everyone to be careful. Then it should get cleaned up. This hazard will affect staff, visitors, and residents. This also applies to bodily fluid spills such as urine or vomit. Should this occur immediate action will be required with a medical spills kit. To avoid these hazard, cleaners should regularly check the care home for spillages and make sure that floors are clean.

Boxes or bags on the floor

This applies to anything that is likely to obstruct the floor of a care home - they are a serious tripping hazard. To avoid this all bags must be put in a safe place and out of the way. Boxes should be stored in a storage cupboard or thrown in the recycling if no longer in use. People who trip and fall over these things have the potential harm to hurt their legs or bruise parts of their body.

Tea trolleys

A tea trolley can sometimes be an obstruction if left blocking a doorway or simply unattended. To avoid this sort of hazard the trolley should be kept in a safe place, preferably in a locked store cupboard, or someone should be with at all times when in use. All entrance and exit ways must be kept clear and free from any obstructions. The risk is heightened if the tea trolley is carrying plates and cutlery, or a large urn of boiling water used for drinks.

Bedrooms - safe use of bed rails

The risk of bed rails, also known as side rails, is used to reduce the risk of falls. They are not suitable for everybody but they can be effective when used on the correct bed for the right person. However, bed rails do not always prevent people falling and they can cause other risks.

If the bed rails are poorly fitted it can cause someone to get trapped between the gaps of the bed rails and the bed, mattress or headboard. Other risks also include:
An employee in a care home must ensure that the bed rails are fitted correctly and are safe. Under careful management, they should be ensuring that:
Bed rails will enhance the safety of residents in care homes by preventing them from falling out of bed but experts have warned that the equipment must be used appropriately in order to prevent hazards and risk of injury.

Bathrooms

All care homes will, of course, have bathrooms, whether it be an en-suite or an individual main bathroom. This is an environment that can have several different hazardous problems.  A risk assessment should identify any potential hazards within a bathroom that you should consider:
Due to a multitude of reasons bathrooms can be extremely hazardous with slippery surfaces and few dependable things to hold onto which increases the cause of harm. Fall-related injuries can range from small cuts, scrapes, and bruises to broken bones or head injuries.

Kitchen

Kitchen safety is important for anyone at any time but it can be a serious problem for those in care homes. The kitchen is said to be one of the most dangerous areas in any home. People can be harmed by fires, spills or food from the kitchen.

Possible risks in the kitchen are:

Fire - Fires in the kitchen are often a cause for concern and can be very dangerous. Care homes must make sure that the kitchen is safe in all aspects, that there are cover plates and that the wiring is properly installed - not only for the safety of residents but workers too.

When operating in the kitchen, care home staff should be careful to put effective measures in place such as:
No residents should be within the kitchen area but should anyone enter the kitchen you need to make sure:

Dining

Some individuals in a care will require assistance when eating, especially those who are permanently bed bound. We have a range of different feeding aids to help with preventing spillage of food and drinks and they ensure that those who suffer with mobility issues can feed themselves with minimal assistance. These are:

Garden

Most care homes are likely to have a garden that residents and employees can access. However, the care home management need to consider the many different hazards that might occur, some of which are not always obvious causes of injury to both residents or members of staff.

The main types of hazards to consider in a garden are:
The garden can be a relatively safe area but will still need checks as there are a number of hazards that could occur if people are not careful. 

Risk assessments  

If these hazards are looked at beforehand and then controlled, measures can be put into place which could stop the hazards from occurring. The risk assessment process isn't about creating loads of paperwork but instead about identifying potential risks and putting measures in place to control them. Ensure you have a risk assessment carried out regularly and that anything picked up is acted upon immediately.

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