Residential Nurse Alert to the Rescue
Each of us receives care from a multitude of people and places. Primary care physicians, specialists, surgeons, nurses, therapists, caregivers, and aides may treat different disease states in different areas of the body, possibly at different times. We might be tended to at home, in the doctor’s office, in an emergency department or hospital setting, in a rehab facility, or anywhere, in any combination. Often, we’re receiving specific treatment in light of a specific issue or episode. But sometimes, what appears to be an isolated incident — when viewed as part of our larger health picture — may actually be part of a pattern.
Efforts to centralize health information and communicate among providers are aimed at catching these kinds of warning signs before they become a larger problem. For example, Residential Home Health clinicians follow up with their patients’ primary physician and other care providers, working together to track progress and avoid missteps in disease management or recovery. And for one repeat Residential Home Health patient, using the Residential Nurse Alert emergency response system was instrumental in identifying a worrisome pattern.
A Safeguard Against Falls
The former patient was again living independently after completing a plan of care with Residential Home Health several months before. Her health challenges included multiple sclerosis, a neurological disorder that affects many body systems (including muscle control); spinal and postural injuries that can cause symptoms of pain, numbness, and difficulty moving; and heart failure, which can cause feelings of weakness or fatigue.
Using a walker or wheelchair for aid, the former patient was able to move short distances around her home, but all of these challenges nevertheless add up to fall risks. In light of her mobility challenges, she had kept the Residential Nurse Alert personal emergency response system given to her during her time as a patient, and had been relying on its ANYTIME – ANYWHERE – ANYTHING assurance for over a year. On a few isolated occasions, the patient did fall in her home, and would press her Residential Nurse Alert button for help getting back up.
However, something changed in August. The patient fell early in the month, and pressed her Residential Nurse Alert button for assistance. Since she was not hurt, the triage nurse requested a lift assist from the fire department. The next day, the patient received a follow-up call from Residential, and told the Nurse Alert Services Manager that she was feeling well.
But not even two weeks later, the patient fell again. Again, she pushed the button, received help from emergency personnel, and reported feeling better during a follow-up call. Three days later, it happened again. In all, the patient had fallen 5 times in 30 days. Each individual fall was treated appropriately and promptly followed up; however, the Nurse Alert Services Manager was growing more and more concerned at the pattern that was emerging. The falls were getting more frequent, signaling a possible change in the patient’s strength or capability. The more often she fell, the more likely it was that the next fall would be even sooner — and the outcome not as fortunate.
Stopping the Cycle
The Nurse Alert Services Manager realized that the patient’s best chance of remaining safe and independent at home would be to resume in-home physical therapy, which had been helpful in the past. However, the patient was thinking in terms of isolated incidents — a few falls that had no lasting results — and declined home care during every call.
Finally, when the Nurse Alert Services Manager called the patient’s house after the fifth fall, the patient’s daughter happened to pick up the phone. As one of the patient’s primary caregivers, the daughter was contacted each time her mother fell, so she was not only aware of the escalating pattern of falls, but also extremely concerned. From the outside looking in, both the Nurse Alert Services Manager and the patient’s daughter could see the potential benefit of in-home physical therapy. Together, they helped the patient to recognize the pattern that was occurring, and she agreed to resume home health care to restore her strength and balance and address her dangerous cycle of falling. With the benefit of therapy and the peace of mind of continued Residential Nurse Alert service, the patient is positioned to continue living independently, as safely and successfully as possible.