Household Hazards – reducing risks in the home

If you work in a hospital or nursing home, despite the current limits on resources, your environment is highly regulated and generally built to purpose. This is not the case for those who deliver care in the home. Community carers and home care staff are potentially working in much more dangerous environments and need to assess the potential hazards from the start.

Here’s a handy 8 point checklist for home care teams, which might also be useful to those caring for elderly or infirm relatives at home and considering some home adaptations:

  1. Lighting: Is it too dim or too bright? Lighting should be easily adjustable with light switches which are easy to find and reach, and some nightlights in the bedroom.
  2. Flooring: Watch out for slippery floors, rugs that may trip or slip, and carpeting that is torn or in poor condition that could cause a fall.
  3. Furniture: Make sure that furniture or clutter is not obstructing walkways. Are cupboards/shelves too high or too low to be easily reached? Wobbly chairs and tables or chairs with low backs and no  armrests can be a hazard.
  4. Electrical: Avoid extension cords which cross walkways and remove any unsafe electrical appliances e.g. old heaters which spark or wobble.
  5. Cookers: Are the dials on the stove difficult to see or operate?
  6. Bathroom and laundry:  Are there grab rails for the bath/shower and toilet? Is the bath/shower recess slippery and are glass doors made of safety glass? Are the soap and shampoo easy to reach?  Medicine cabinets need to be well lit. Toilets should be high enough and check out inward opening toilet doors – is there enough room to move in and out easily…
  7. Stairs: Stairs shouldn’t be too steep, or too long and need to be well lit, kept in good repair, with easy to see edges and proper full length stable handrails.
  8. Outside areas:  Watch out for sloping, slippery, obstructed or uneven pathways and for steps, landings, verandas, patios or entrances which may be slippery when wet.