Home Safety and Wellness Assessments

If you have a loved one who is showing signs of declining health or independence, you may wonder what level of support they need.

Providing care in the home may have worked well for a time, but may no longer be affordable as care needs increase. Perhaps a health event such as a fall or stroke has caused you to assume the role of caregiver. Or a parent’s health has been slowly declining for years and reaching a point where living without assistance is no longer safe.

No matter the situation, deciding on the level of care and assistance a loved one needs—whether it be a parent, grandparent or a spouse—is never easy and usually rife with emotion.

Agreeing on the right time to move to assisted living is also an emotional decision. Many times, a parent or loved one is reluctant to move for fear of losing their independence. If you find yourself in this situation—or know someone who is—a Home Safety and Wellness Assessment can help you weigh the pros and cons of caring for a loved one at home vs. moving so you have more information on hand to make the right choice for you and your loved ones.

What is the goal of a home visit from Sonata Senior Living?

According to Katie Wood, LPN and Wellness Director at Sonata Senior Living, the primary goal of a home visit is to make recommendations to families that will ensure the safety and well-being of a loved one who may be experiencing declining health and in need of some assistance.

Upon receiving a request for a home visit, she’ll schedule a convenient time to meet with a family in their home to conduct a Home Safety and Wellness Assessment.

A safe home visit can be requested by calling a Sonata Senior Living community near you.

What does a Home Safety and Wellness Assessment consist of?

The Home Safety and Wellness Assessment is offered as a free service by Sonata to educate and guide families with a loved one in need of some assistance with self-care or activities of daily living.

It is designed not only to assess the wellness and safety of older adults who may be struggling with daily tasks such as cooking, bathing and dressing, but also avail services and resources that can make aging in place safer.

As part of the assessment, a licensed nurse will do a head-to-toe assessment that examines an individual’s need for assistance in the several areas such as:

  • Mobility
  • Bathing
  • Medication Management
  • Dressing and Grooming
  • Device assistance (hearing aids, walker)
  • Continence
  • Diet and nutrition (low-salt diet)
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Chronic illnesses/disease
  • Cognitive Safety (ability to remember medications)
  • Physical Safety (stairs, throw rugs)
  • Cognitive awareness (i.e. forgetting to pay bills)

The assessment tool used by the nurse will assist in making the most informed recommendations, including a comprehensive services plan and determination of care needs that families can use to make decisions about the future care and safety of their loved ones.

What kind of questions will be asked in a Home Safety and Wellness Assessment?

The assessment tool uses a point-based scoring system to ascertain the level of assistance that may be required to support a loved one, whether that be in the home or in a long-term care setting.

In a typical home visit, Katie Wood, LPN at Sonata Senior Living, would ask a series of questions that relate to an individual’s health and functional history. For example:

  • Is it difficult to get out of bed?
  • Do you use any assistance devices such as a shower chair?
  • Do you sit down in the shower and can you clean your feet?
  • Do you get dressed independently?
  • What medications do you take?
  • Does a family or caregiver help you remember to take medications?
  • Do you cook your own meals?
  • Do you do your own housekeeping?
  • Do you find it challenging to keep the home clean?

Questions related to ambulation or the ability to walk help the nurse assess an individual’s balance and may result in a recommendation for physical or occupational therapy to teach a safer way to bath or walk to prevent future falls in the home.

How do you ensure safety during a home visit?

Safety is an important aspect of the Home Safety and Wellness Assessment, particularly during the pandemic. As standard practice, the visiting nurses will wash their hands as soon as they enter the home. In addition, social distancing best practices are followed, ensuring a minimum of six feet distance from all family members in the home.

Home visit nurses are required to use personal protective equipment (PPE) during a home visit, including an N95 mask, a face shield, gown and shoe covers to ensure the safety of older adults in the home.

How can families prepare for a home visit?

Actually, it is best not to prepare too much. According to Katie Wood, LPN, it is better if the family caregiver is not in the room during the assessment for objectivity. A “private conversation” with the individual in need of care tends to result in a more accurate assessment. That’s because when other family members are present during an interview, the individual in need of care may not answer questions honestly or accurately for fear of worrying other family members. They may feel embarrassed about their declining health and don’t want to be perceived as a burden.

In order to get an accurate depiction of a living situation, Katie asks families not to clean the house or modify the living environment so that she may identify areas of concern. For example, an overflowing trash bin or full sink of dishes may indicate a need for additional support.

What forms need to be completed during a home visit?

There are no forms required for a home visit, however, knowing your loved one’s medical history can assist in the Home Safety and Wellness Assessment.

Notes from your loved one’s physician can be helpful but are not required. If you have these documents, share them with the nurse during his or her visit:

  • A completed 1823 form
  • A list of medications
  • A list of chronic illness/disease
  • History or surgeries
  • Vaccine history
  • List of doctors and specialists
  • Latest progress notes from primary care doctor

Katie recommends that families review the list of medications provided by a physician to ensure that all current medications are included. Sometimes a primary care doctor has not been updated to prescribed medications from specialists and a comprehensive list of medications will be required prior to moving to assisted living.

What is an AHCA Form 1823?

The AHCA Form 1823 – also known as the Resident Health Assessment for Assisted Living Facilities – is a legal form published by the Florida Agency For Health Care Administration. The 1823 form will eventually be required to be admitted to assisted living and must be completed by your primary care physician. The form is used by senior care providers to determine the level of care best suited for your loved one.

If you do not have a Form 1823, Sonata can provide you with one during the home visit or you can access one here.

What types of guidance are offered to families during a home visit?

During a home visit, an LPN from Sonata will review your loved one’s physical and cognitive abilities and limitations, diet and nutrition, behavior, nursing, medication and treatment needs, and ability to perform activities of daily living, self-care and hygiene. This information ultimately helps to determine if your loved one is a good fit for assisted living, home care or some other form of support so that an LPN can make a recommendation based on your unique circumstances.

In many cases, home care is a possible solution if a family is able to provide sufficient care at home. Or, home care may be a better interim solution for a family until a full transition to assisted living is more appropriate. Assisted living may be a better solution for families that are no longer able to provide the level of support that is needed. Memory care may be appropriate if symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia have become more advanced.

If a family decides to provide care to their loved one at home, Sonata’s LPN can arrange assistance with making the home safer for your loved one or providing community resources. If assisted living is more appropriate, Sonata’s LPN will provide education about the assisted living lifestyle and transition process.

Final Home Safety and Wellness Assessment recommendations are made based on the level of supervision that is needed in the home for your loved one to remain healthy and safe.

To learn how Sonata can help, contact us today→ or schedule a visit →

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