SAFETY HAZARDS IN THE HOME

In 2005-2006, a study was done to assess the status of home health care in New York City. According to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK43619/, “A convenience sample of 1,561 home health aides, attendants, and personal care workers completed a risk assessment survey. Items addressed personal, patient, and home characteristics and health hazards. All activities had prior Institutional Review Board approval.”

The findings were presented in a report called “Home Health Care Patients and Safety Hazards in the Home.” The home health care workers reported the following:

  • Peeling paint (15 percent), irritating chemicals (17 percent)
  • Poor indoor air quality, cigarette smoke (30 percent)
  • Unsanitary conditions (12 percent) and unsafe conditions (6 percent) within the home
  • Vermin (23 percent), cockroaches (33 percent)
  • Aggressive pets (6 percent)
  • Clutter (17 percent)
  • Neighborhood violence/crime (11 percent)
  • Presence of guns in house (2 percent)
  • Signs of abuse of the client (12 percent)

If you are an American Home Health nurse, you may have encountered one or more of these in the home of a client. Be sure to report these issues to your supervisor.

If your client lives in an apartment complex or a multi-family house, eradicating cockroaches becomes a job for the professionals. American Home Health will contact the building management who will hire a pest control company to do the work. If one apartment has cockroaches, the adjoining apartment probably has cockroaches, too. Several units may need to be treated in order to eliminate the problem.

Bedbugs, small non-flying insects, may also be a problem. They feed by sucking blood from human and animals. They can live anywhere in the home, but they are most commonly found on beds, mattresses, box springs, and bed frames. They commonly bite the face, neck, hands, and arms of individuals while they are sleeping. Bedbugs can also live in carpets and bite the individual’s legs. Symptoms of bedbug bites are redness, itching, and swelling. A professional pest control company may be required to remove bedbugs from a home.

Remember that state law requires that most professionals in education, health care, law enforcement, and social work report suspected neglect or abuse. Registered nurses and licensed practical nurses are mandated reporters.

As an American Home Health nurse, you become an advocate for your clients. You help ensure that the clients receive not only professional nursing care but also live in safe home environments.

—By Karen Centowski