By Angel MedFlight Contributor
Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance delivers our trademarked Bedside-to-Bedside® service when chosen as the air medical transport provider for you or your loved one. But just how thorough is that service? Take for example when we transport an elderly patient back to their home. Our critical care flight nurses and paramedics make sure the patient is not only comfortable, but safe as well. To do that we give the living quarters a thorough safety check before leaving the patient.
Extension cords in a walkway, throw rugs that could trip someone or a water heater turned up too high. These are just a few of the items that our flight crew members look out for in an elderly patient’s home. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that on average over 1.4 million people aged 65 and older are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with consumer products. The rate of injury is the highest for people 75 and older.
Director of Clinical Services Kevin Anderson says when we arrive on the scene, our medical flight crew members do a home safety assessment. “We don’t want to leave and then they get up and fall and break their hip because a rug was positioned right by their chair.”
“Usually when we walk in to an elderly patient’s home the first thing we’ll see is clutter. They’ll have furniture that they’ve had for 50 or 60 years and they’ve put throws over it. And those throws often hang down to the floor and people get their feet caught in them. We also see a lot of throw rugs on hardwood floors.”
It’s important to make sure flooring is flat and uniform and is slip-resistant or is covered with slip-resistant carpeting, rugs, mats or similar materials. Anderson says in the bathrooms, Angel MedFlight medical crew members will check to see if the elderly patient has easily graspable grab bars.
Communication is so important for an elderly patient, especially those who live alone. We’ll check to see there is a bedside phone and recommend numbers for speed-dialing. The CPSC recommends placing a phone low enough in case a person falls and is not able to stand. Those who have difficulty seeing the numbers on a regular phone should use one that has large, lighted number keys.
Older people can lose the sensitivity in their fingers and find it difficult to judge how hot the water is in the sink or bathtub. “We tell the family to make sure the water heater is set to the right temperature (no more than 120°F to help prevent burns) because sometimes they won’t even turn on the cold water and they won’t feel that,” says Anderson.
If there is no in-home care involved, our air ambulance medical flight crews will tell the patient and their family members where they can find detailed safety checklists online and where they can locate certified home inspectors to give a more detailed safety evaluation.
More than just a medical transport company, Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance is dedicated to exceeding our patients’ expectations. Yes, we are happy that we’ve delivered an older patient home, but we do our best to make sure that patient has returned to a home that is safe.