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Safe Patient Handling: Transferring Patients With Dementia

Today’s Safe Patient Handling topic involves tips and suggestions for transferring loved ones with dementia.

What is Dementia?

The Canadian Mental Health Association defines dementia as a decline in mental ability which affects memory, thinking, problem solving, concentration and perception. The gradual decrease in cognitive ability means that the capacity to think and communicate gradually decline and the affected person may find it difficult to learn new information and express their needs. Dementia is progressive, meaning symptoms tend to worsen over time.

Transferring Patients With Dementia

It is important for those moving and handling people with dementia to consider the severity of the person’s symptoms in order to assist them safely. Cognitive impairment in dementia often limits the ability of the person to communicate effectively, which could impinge on an individual’s ability to clearly identify the person’s needs before attempting to move them.

When attempting to move or assist someone with dementia, you should:

  • Assess the situation to determine the ability of the person and the level of assistance required—remember, when it comes to dementia an individual’s cognitive ability can vary from day to day, and even minute to minute. They might require more or less assistance in the present than they have in the past.
  • Explain to the patient the reason why they are being moved, before you move them—remember to be patient and repeat the explanation as frequently as seems required.
  • Identify any equipment you will need to assist you with moving the patient, and ensure that the patient knows it is there.
  • Adapt the environment in order to make the patient feel safer—you may want to reduce noise level, improve lighting, and minimize distractions in the room (children, pets, television, etc.)
  • Continue to talk to them as you assist them with the move and repeat yourself when necessary to explain what you’re doing, as you’re doing it, especially if they show signs of confusion or distress.

If a dementia patient’s symptoms worsen over time, you may no longer feel capable of moving them on your own. If you find that you can no longer assist in transferring an individual with dementia without risking the safety of yourself or the patient, contact a professional with knowledge on safe patient handling to assist you with the move. Spectrum Health Care and Spectrum Patient Services offer a variety of services and options that can help you safely assist your loved one suffering from dementia.

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Safe Patient Handling: Transferring Arthritis Patients

Today’s Safe Patient Handling topic involves tips and suggestions for handling patients who suffer from arthritis.

What is arthritis?

According to The Arthritis Society of Canada, arthritis consists of more than 100 different conditions. The common denominator for all of these conditions is joint and musculoskeletal pain.  Often this pain is a result of inflammation of the joint lining. When a joint becomes inflamed, it may develop redness, swelling, heat and pain, which can prevent in the normal use of the joint and/or loss of function in that joint.

How can I safely handle a patient with arthritis?

If you are assisting and/or transferring someone suffering from arthritis, it’s important to consider their limited movement in order to protect their safety and avoid causing them discomfort.

Before you transfer them, be sure to find out:

  • Where they most commonly feel discomfort from their arthritis
  • If they are currently experiencing any pain, swelling or stiffness in any joints
  • If they have any medical equipment or supplies to support the affected joint and limit the pain they experience

When you are ready to transfer the patient:

  • Any contact with the patient should be with as much of the palms as possible, preventing grip-like holds
  • Points of contact with the patient should be ‘indirect’ as opposed to ‘direct’ as this aids joint protection. An example would be to glide your arm underneath the patient’s joint (indirect) rather than painfully gripping the joint (direct).
  • Help the patient redistribute their weight, where possible, in order to decrease the amount of pressure on sore joints.
  • Keep movements as smooth as possible

If you or your loved one are suffering from arthritis and need assistance moving from one place to another, be sure to speak with a doctor for more information on tools and equipment that can help decrease pain and make movements easier on your/their muscles and joints.

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Wheelchair Safety and Accessibility

If you or your loved one require the use of a wheelchair or other assistive devices, there are several safety concerns to consider in order to prevent unnecessary injury or accidents. The following are some tips for improving safety and accessibility around the house for those with mobility devices.

Safety and Accessibility in Bathrooms:

  • Wider bathroom doorways may be needed to accomodate the size of you or your loved ones device.
  • People with limited mobility or balance may find it hard to transfer from their wheelchair to bathtub. To help, consider installing:
    - Grab bars
    - Transfer seats
    - Nonslip tub mats
    - Bench that extends outside the bathtub
    - Swivel-style shower seat
    - Roll-in shower
  • Sensor operated faucets are helpful for those who have trouble grasping with their hands

Safet and Accessibility on Stairs/Ramps:

  • Make sure stairway/ramp handles are installed properly
    -Handrails should be able to support 250 pounds
    - Handrails should extend beyond the top and bottom so people have support when they get on and off the last step
  • Ensure stairways have proper lighting
  • Consider installing a chair-lift if you or your loved one have limited mobility

Remember that if you or your loved one require a wheelchair or assistive devices, it is important to create a living space that fits your/their needs. We suggest that you organize a walk-through of you or your loved ones house and make a list of areas that should be redesigned in order to ensure safety and accessibility requirements are met.

Sources:
Preferred Health Choice Home Medical Supplies
Mobility Basics
Colorado State University: Home Adaptations for the Disabled

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Online Education Forum- Caregiver Information Day

Tuesday April 7th is National Family Caregiver Day in Canada. In celebrating this day, the Canadian Caregiver Coalition is hosting an online education forum on April 7th from 9:30am-4:30pm EST.

The forum will feature recognized leaders in the field who will share strategies and tools through a series of podcasts and supported by a live tweet chat. Feature speakers include the Honourable Alice Wong- Minister of State (Seniors), the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Vanier Institute, Dr. Allison Williams and representatives from caregiver support programs across the country.

For more information on speaker times and how to log-in check out the CCC website www.ccc-ccan.ca on Friday March 27th.

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Safe Patient Handling

Providing care for an individual who has limited mobility can be a dangerous task if not done carefully. Being unaware of the proper techniques for safe handling can result in serious injury. Even trained caregivers, paramedics, and personal support workers (PSWs) report high rates of musculoskeletal injuries as a result of overexertion during patient transfer.

If you or someone you know is caring for an individual who requires assistance with mobility, here are some tips for safe handling that can prevent unnecessary injury.

Before attempting to move someone:

  • Consider your own mobility and strength. Will moving them risk injuring you?
  • Ask someone to help you if you cannot assist them on your own.
  • Be aware of any obstacles in the space (i.e. objects, pets, small children) and have a plan for moving around them safely.
  • Make sure you are wearing suitable clothing and shoes. (Especially if you are on a slippery or damp surface).
  • If using equipment to help move an individual, examine it first to ensure it is functional.
  • Let the individual know that you will be moving them and explain what you are going to do before you begin.

Once you have assessed the situation and decided to move the individual:

  • Make sure you never lift above your shoulder height.
  • Keep any weight close to your body.
  • Be sure your feet are stable.
  • Keep your back straight and bend your knees.
  • Lift as smoothly as possible and use equipment to help you if needed.

Remember, transferring a loved one should not put you at risk of being injured. If you are unable to transfer your loved one without harm, consider hiring patient transfer professionals who can transfer your loved ones safely.

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Spectrum Patient Services Awarded Region of Peel Tender

We are pleased to announce that Spectrum Patient Services has been awarded the Region of Peel’s contract for Transportation Services for Long Term Care Residents Requiring Dialysis.

As Ontario’s leading provider of non-urgent patient transfer services, Spectrum Patient Services is dedicated to providing the Region of Peel and its Long Term Care residents with compassionate care coupled with quality transfer services.

For more information on Spectrum Patient Services or to inquire about patient transfer services call 1-866-527-9191.

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