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Home care health and safety:

7 tips for staying safe at home

Staying happy and comfortable while receiving home care is easy when you follow a few simple health and safety tips.

The benefits of receiving home care are that you or your loved one can keep enjoying the comfort and familiarity of home. If you’re looking for a home care professional, first take a look at the house itself and evaluate just how safe it is. There are few key areas of the home that, with some small changes, can vastly improve the safety and comfort of you or your loved one.

There are more benefits to home safety than just avoiding accidents. By following our top tips, you’ll not only make it safer, but you can also improve the overall health and wellbeing of the person receiving care by giving them the confidence they need to live independently.

1. Preventing falls

Falls are incredibly common among people over 70 and can lead to injury or simply cause people to lose their confidence, which jeopardises an older person’s independence. By reducing the risk of falls you’ll help make sure the person receiving care can comfortably move throughout the their house.

A good way to start is by clearing walkways in the house, which is as simple as rearranging furniture and de-cluttering hallways and exits. Rugs and electrical cords can also be a tripping hazard, so you might like to invest in non-slip mats to secure carpets, or even try taping loose cords and rug edges down.

As people get older, many choose to install grip rails for extra support while using the toilet or taking a shower. Investing in grip rails seems like a small change, however, the impact they can have on someone’s independence is priceless.

2. Good lighting

For people who suffer from poor vision, bad lighting can increase the risk of falls, particularly if they get up frequently throughout the night. A care professional can make sure light-bulbs are replaced as soon as they go out, but we recommend installing night-lights around the house to provide a clear path and also keeping a torch next to the bed.

People who do regularly wake throughout the night, might like to also consider including overnight care in their care plan. This can help relieve some of the stress associated with restless nights.

3. Clear out storage areas

Disorganised and cluttered storage areas, especially medicine cabinets and pantries, are likely to contain out-of-date products that are no longer fit for use. Old medication, though not always unsafe, can lead to confusion.

Likewise out-of-date foodstuffs could cause illness if eaten and can even attract pests if they’re not stored correctly. It’s also a good idea to double check that cleaning products are kept in a dedicated space away from foods and eating utensils. By bringing order to these areas, you’ll ensure the house is kept safe and clean.

4. Prepare for the weather

Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, are not just uncomfortable, they can have serious health consequences, causing illnesses such as flu or heat stroke. Staying on top of utility bills is important, but so is maintaining heating and cooling systems.

Heavy rain can cause outdoor areas to become slippery, so consider keeping a couple of easy-to-prepare meals in the freezer for when it’s particularly wet. All it means is that you or your loved can avoid having to go out during inclement weather.

5. Emergencies and security

Having a security system and being prepared for emergencies are not only good for staying safe, they also give vulnerable adults peace of mind, which is incredibly important in making sure people are confident in their homes.

In the event of a fall or injury, wearable personal alarm systems make it easy to get help in a hurry. You should also consider giving a spare set keys to a trusted neighbour or a nearby family member as an extra precaution.

When it comes to home security, outdoor lighting and visible alarm systems make a great deterrent. Simply being aware of the importance of maintaining a secure home is also important. That means testing and replacing old locks, especially on windows, as well as storing valuables in a secure place. A robbery of valuable and personal possessions can be incredibly stressful, so it’s good to take measures that eliminate the risk of it happening.

6. Being fire safe

As with any home, fire safety should be a high priority. This means frequently testing and changing the batteries in any smoke alarms. There’s no worse time to trip and fall than during an emergency, so it’s also good to maintain those clear paths to exits you’ve already made.

Of course, being prepared for a fire is great, but making an effort to avoid them altogether should also be important. Practicing fire safety means keeping hobs, heaters and lamps - anything that gets hot, really - clear of potentially flammable items such as dishcloths, laundry and clothing, or even curtains.

If the person needing care is prone to confusion, you might also like to incorporate meal preparation into their care plan. This will help them avoid using the oven or an open flame.

7. Checking in

Regular home care visits, even short ones, are great for ensuring health and safety measures are maintained but, most importantly, they’re an excellent source of social interaction.

Companionship lifts people’s spirits by providing mental stimulation, boosting self esteem and releasing hormones that reduce stress, which is why, in addition to care, having a strong support network of friends and visitors should be an important aspect of any home health and safety plan.