5 Hazards Assisted Living Facilities Should Address Now
August 27, 2019
It’s hard not to have noticed: insurance premiums for assisted-living facilities have been climbing.
There’s no mystery to understanding why. It’s all about rising frequency and severity of claims.
Assisted-living facilities are seeing some of the more dramatic increases in premiums because their claims are increasingly looking like those more commonly seen in skilled nursing homes.
None of this is about to change any time soon, not with so many baby boomers retiring every day and yet wanting to remain as independent as possible.
Carriers don’t like it at all, and their unease with assisted-living facilities isn’t likely to go away when so many of these facilities lack more robust risk management programs to help them prevent falls or address cognitive degeneration in their residents, among other things.
The good news is that putting clear procedures in place can go far in minimizing, if not preventing, many of these issues.
For starters, it’s important for an organization to create a culture in which employees are able to recognize risks quickly and easily — anything from a crack in the sidewalk to cyber risk.
Here are five concrete – and fairly easy – ways in which assisted-living facilities can address some of their most prominent risks:
- Repair carpets and flooring. Slips and falls are the most common injury suffered by assisted living facility residents and are commonly caused by poorly maintained flooring surfaces. Make sure floors are never left wet. Carpets should be low pile, and loose rugs should be avoided. Lighting also should be kept in good condition, while all walkways should be kept clear. Poor health and medications are also leading causes of slip-and-fall accidents, so it’s critical to monitor residents’ health, even in a non-skilled home care environment.
- Install safety alert systems. Bathrooms should be equipped with an emergency pull string, and every bed should have a call button nearby. Along the same lines, because wandering off is a risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, facilities should take security measures to prevent residents from leaving the premises unexpectedly, including video surveillance, security guards and secured exits.
- Install handrails in bathrooms. These are essential safety measures in residential care facilities and should be adjusted based on the resident’s height or physical limitations.
- Transportation training.Transporting residents to off-site activities or therapy or medical appointments come with a good number of risks. Even if the driver and facility staff members take all possible precautions and follow all safety procedures, they cannot account for the behavior of other drivers or weather conditions that can cause serious accidents. For that reason, only staff members specifically trained to transport residents should be allowed to do so.
- Document everything. There’s an adage: If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen. So document everything you do. Document care plans, exceptions to the care plans, all conversations that take place between staff and physicians, efforts to manage risks, quality assurance programs, and so on. And hold quality assurance meetings regularly to track the quality improvement process.
See? Nothing overly complicated on the above list. We’re always surprised, however, to walk into facilities that somehow overlook even the easy stuff. The plaintiff’s lawyers representing families in their lawsuits against assisted living facilities know this, too.
Jeff Parent is a CCIG Insurance Advisor. Reach him at Jeff.Parent@thinkccig.com or at 720-330-7918.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance brokerage with the full-service capabilities of a national brokerage. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We also help you manage your long-term cost of risk with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.
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