OpenPlacement Blog

Assisted Living Risk Management

As with any assisted living facility, there is potential for problems to arise that can create a less than desirable environment or negatively affect patients. Assisted living risk management is absolutely crucial for any owner/operator in order to create an environment in which potential issues are minimized.

Assisted Living Risk Management: 10 Sound Strategies

Preventing Falls

Because of the population of those in assisted living facilities are prone to falling, and being injured as a result, it is crucial to determine ways to diminish the potential for falls. Adopting a falls prevention program, implementing the program and testing it and evaluating the results are all crucial in order to find an effective way to minimize injuries of those likely to fall.

Lessening Risks Related to Private Duty Aides

Private duty aides are employed by many facilities to provide help to residents with such duties as preparation of food, shopping, laundry or housekeeping. While the aides can be helpful, they do also provide a potential set of issues particularly in terms of safety and security of the facility (including risks like theft) or of the resident's safety or well-being (i.e., abuse). Because aides are often third parties, not directly employed by the facility itself, it is important to use a means of recruiting these staff members that allows for recruitment of only the highest quality aides from reputable sources. Checking references, using background checks and other means of ensuring that previous behavior in the work environment was acceptable is crucial. Implementing a means to routinely check on the quality of care being provided is also important.

Conducting Discharge and Exit Interviews

When patients or employees separate from the establishment, it is necessary to do an interview in order to garner information in writing that sheds light on the mindset of the employee or resident, and can be used later if a legal case is pursued against the facility for any reason. Jaded former employees or unhappy former residents can significantly damage a facility's reputation. Discharge and Exit Interviews help to minimize that risk.

Managing Documentation

Incident reports and other mandated paperwork must be properly managed in order to minimize the risk of losing against liability claims against the facility. Facilities that better manage reports and required paperwork are more likely to be adequately prepared to defend themselves against potential lawsuits.

Administering Medication Appropriately

In a 2012 report from the Assisted Living Federation of America, it was listed that the most frequent violations of assisted living communities involved medication administration. Violations such as these include anything from not ordering refills or not disposing medication that have expired to actually giving the wrong medication to a patient. Standards must be in place, from checklists to computer based documentation in order to track medications and ensure that care providers are following strict guidelines.

Training of the Staff

Training of staff in assisted living communities is not just ideal; it is mandated by many states. Additionally, training requirements include not only initial training, but also ongoing training as well. Leaders in assisted living communities must learn and understand the laws of the state in order to adhere to them and provide the best quality care.

Implementation of Emergency Policies and Procedures

Because of the compromised physical nature of many residents in an assisted living community it is imperative to implement and practice emergency strategies. Conducting drills and having known plans for any emergency is an important and mandated means of being prepared.

Preventing Food Risks

Food service is listed as one of the top ten deficiencies on the Assisted Living Federation of America's list of violations. Food service issues include handling, storage, and the actual service. The regulations of the state must be checked and procedures put in place to follow both common sense rules and mandated regulations as well as a plan for ongoing assessment of the procedures to ensure that they are being followed.

Ensuring Staff Health Does Not Affect Residents

All staff must be routinely tested for contagious illnesses such as tuberculosis. Many residents in assisted living communities have compromised immune symptoms and could easily catch a contagious condition or disease. Implementing a policy that is strictly adhered to regarding the testing of employees of the facility will help to prevent the passage of illness to a resident.

Caring for Residents

Improper resident care can be a problem in assisted living facilities. Not following a care plan or neglecting basic duties such as changing undergarments are violations that can result in lawsuits against the facility and degrade its overall reputation. It is important to have in place supervisory guidelines and means of checking the work of staff in order to prevent any gaps in resident care.