Tips for Home Care Agencies When Working with Alzheimer's Patients

As mentioned in our previous blog post, predictions made by the CDC indicate that the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease will increase three-fold to approximately 14 million people by 2050.

The result will be home care agencies caring for an increased number of homebound patients suffering from reduced cognitive function. This presents new challenges for your home care agency, as additional stress will be placed on your staff that is responsible for delivering patient care.

In order to adapt, your home care agency needs to consider how to address the impact on your employees, as well as the potential for increased liability.

To help reduce your exposure to risk, your agency must undertake the appropriate steps to plan for the future. This includes providing training for caregivers so they are better prepared to handle difficult patients and unexpected situations when they arise.

Increased Risk To Staff

Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s or similar illnesses can be unpredictable. They often become frightened, confused, abusive and combative. Your employees delivering care can be hit or assaulted by a patient without warning, resulting in injury.

According to this white paper, “Understanding Combative Behavior in Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease,” published by The Alzheimer’s Association, we are given insight into the reasons behind the violent behavior of a patient. 

As Alzheimer’s progresses, the patient has less and less tolerance for frustration, which is a regular experience for the person with the disease. “Alzheimer’s eventually affects areas of the brain that controls inhibition. When that happens, frustration can quickly turn to resistance, verbal aggression or violence.”

This important information helps us gain a better understanding of the root causes of aggression in patients.

Staff Training and Continuing Education

Understanding the reason behind violent patient behavior, we are then in a better position to educate our staff responsible for delivering hands on care. Providing adequate training will give your employees the necessary tools to reduce or deflect combative interactions with patients.

When a Patient Requires a Higher Level of Care

Another important aspect in providing a higher quality of care for your Alzheimer’s patients, and reducing your exposure to risk, is to have an evaluation system in place that will help determine when to recommend that a patient be transferred to an inpatient facility, such as a nursing home.

Decisions of this magnitude will obviously require discussions with the patient’s physician, family and input from your home care agency.

Providing continuing education for your staff, and implementing protocols which address employee safety and patient well-being, is considered good risk management and looked upon favorably by insurance carriers. Your home care agency could benefit in terms of reduced insurance premium for workers compensation and other liability related policies.

The Importance of Workers Compensation Insurance

If, during the course of delivering patient care, one of your employees is hit, kicked or punched, and sustains injuries due to a patient lashing out, workers compensation insurance would cover the medical treatment that is the result of this injury.

To ensure your home care agency has the right insurance to cover these types of workers compensation claims, give us a call and schedule a complimentary consultation with us. We can review your current insurance coverage to ensure your home care agency is adequately protected.

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