Recent Caregiver Blogs

Posted: 1/12/2022 2:18:40 PM

Heroes Without Superpowers – Proper Body Mechanics Save the Day

Caregivers do a lot in a day. By “a lot,” we mean muscle work from the beginning of the shift to the end, including running, changing bedsheets, lifting heavy items, lifting patients and clients while transferring them from the bed to a chair, walking them to the bathroom and back…the list just grows.

They do all these to care for their patients, sometimes even skipping breaks and staying late. Caregivers are heroes in their own way, but since they are only human, all this lifting and turning takes a toll on their physical health.

Whether in a hospital, facility, or a client's home, the tasks and challenges for caregivers are very similar and often exactly the same, and the danger of back injury while doing these tasks is real!

This is where the use of proper body mechanics becomes crucial in preventing injuries, such as back strain and spine damages. There are many aspects to using proper body mechanics to help protect yourself from injury, but here are the most important that caregivers must always practice, regardless of the task:

1. Do a quick mental analysis of the task before you. Are you lifting a patient and transferring them to a chair? What should be done first? Where is the safest place to stand?

2. As you picture the task in your mind, do some arm and leg stretches and warm up your muscles.

3. If you are doing the heavy task with a patient, explain the steps of your approach to them. This technique is very useful, not only in keeping both caregiver and patient safe during the movement, but also in giving the patient the chance to help you while moving them.

4. Before lifting or transferring a patient, always keep your feet apart to ensure a wide and secure base of support. This technique helps keep your balance during the task.

5. Bend your knees and not your back. The heaviest force should come from the feet.

6. Stay as close as possible to the person or item to be moved because your body can best support a heavy load this way, with the force of the lift coming from the shoulders and the upper arms instead of just the lower arms.

7. Face your task so that it is directly in front of you. This approach prevents you from twisting or reaching out unnecessarily and hurting your back in the process.

8. Move as one unit so that, as you turn left, the whole body turns left and not just the upper body. This technique prevents twisting movements that can hurt the back or spine. The head and neck must also be kept aligned to prevent injuring your neck and shoulder muscles.

9. Your foot should go in the direction of your movement. This move keeps your knees and calf muscles from harm.

10. Hold on properly to the person or item to be lifted. If you fail to do this, the patient may fall and become injured, or your toes will feel how heavy the falling object really is!

11. When lifting, the force of the movement should come from the muscles of the entire arms and legs. These muscles can handle lifting better than the back muscles.

12. No sudden movements! Jerky movements can rip muscles and even fracture bones, so you must always keep this one rule in mind.

13. No lifting or turning more than you can handle. Be sure to ask for another person’s help if needed.

14. Use tools that will make your work easier. Turning sheets, mechanical or electric lifters, transfer belts, and gait belts will help keep you from injury, so do not hesitate to use them when you need them.

Being a caregiver is a rewarding job, but be careful to not let the work rob you of your own physical safety while on duty. Practicing proper body mechanics at all times is like putting on armor before battle, it protects you from unnecessary injury on the job.


Posted: 11/5/2021 9:15:47 AM

Rule Your Day: Great ADL Tips for Caregivers

Caregiving will not be complete without assisting the patient in performing activities of daily living (ADL). ADLs are basic self-care functions a patient needs to keep healthy. These activities are eating, bathing, toileting, dressing, walking, and moving around. For a caregiver, helping a patient with these tasks could be the most tiring and time-consuming thing the caregiver would have to do in a day.

Being new to caregiving should not overwhelm you and make you give up on one of the most important decisions of your life, to care for a human life, so consider these ADL tips to get you through your day in a breeze.

In general, follow these helpful tips:

- ENCOURAGE INDEPENDENCE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Part of your role as a caregiver is to make your patient feel good about themselves and to prevent frustration, and nothing can do that better than letting them do things for themselves. So allow activities where they can be independent caring for themselves but within safe limits.

- ALLOW ENOUGH TIME FOR THE PATIENT TO PERFORM A TASK AND THEN YOU FINISH WHAT THE PATIENT COULD NOT DO. Patients are limited by their physical illness, so caregivers must give them enough time to finish their tasks to let them have a sense of accomplishment.

- HAVE A SCHEDULE AND A ROUTINE. Make a daily plan of activities and have a routine. This is especially helpful in caring for young children and those who are confused.

- KEEP THE PATIENT’S PREFERENCES IN MIND. Establishing a great relationship with your patient means respecting their needs and wants. Sometimes, something as simple as letting them use their favorite things or just playing their favorite music can make the day a lot easier for both of you.

- DIVIDE BIG TASKS IN TO SMALL ONES. This tip is particularly useful in dealing with patients who have dementia and have difficulty understanding and following instructions. So next time that you help them dress, instead of saying, “Put on your clothes” you can tell them to put their shirt on, slide their right arm then their left, and then button their shirt up. It will take more time for them to analyze how to perform big tasks than follow simple instructions.

- ANTICIPATE NEEDS AND GATHER ALL SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT BEFORE STARTING CARE. This technique will prevent you from going to and from the patient’s room and feeling exhausted from all the running.

WHEN FEEDING:

1. Serve hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
2. Cut foods into small bites.
3. Garnish their plate with a colorful food.
4. Choose lighter utensils.
5. Offer a sip of water every after a few bites.
6. Play their favorite music during meal time.

WHEN BATHING:

1. Use liquid soap and shampoo in a dispenser to prevent picking up the slippery bar soap.
2. For patients who are weak, keep a safe sturdy chair for them to sit on while in the shower.
3. Ensure that grab bars and anti-slip mats are installed.
4. For older patients, keep the bathroom warm and free of drafts.
5. For patients with decreased sensation, test the warmth of the bath water before the patient get in to the bath water.
6. Ask the patient to clean what he can reach and finish the rest of the bath for them.
7. Clean in between skin folds.

WHEN TOILETING:

1. Use raised toilet seats with arm rests for those patients who have difficulty getting up and down.
2. Teach the patient how to use a self-wipe toilet aid, an assistive device to help them reach and clean their private parts.

WHEN WALKING OR MOVING AROUND

1. For patients who are in bed most of the time, help them sit up and dangle their feet first for a few minutes before helping them to stand and walk. This prevents them from fainting.
2. Use a transfer belt or a lift to move weak patients from the bed to a chair or to another seat.

WHEN DRESSING:

1. For confused patients or those having difficulty with hand movements, let them use shirts that open in the front; Velcro fasteners are more preferable than buttons.
2. For patients with advanced dementia, limit the choice of clothes for each change to two choices.
3. For weak patients, comfortably loose pants with an elastic waistband are preferable because they are easier to put on and take off.

Helping patients perform activities of daily living is a challenging task. If it gets overwhelming for you as a new caregiver, keep in mind that your best teacher would be your own experience over time as well as your genuine concern for your patient. As you go through your daily work, you will gain more insight and knowledge on how to care for your patient, and this would ultimately help you develop a system that truly works.


Posted: 10/4/2021 3:00:27 PM

Medication Management, from Prescription to Refill

If you are a caregiver wishing to make your life easier by doing just one thing for a start, try medication management.

Medication management entails being knowledgeable about the patient’s medications and being organized enough so that the patient takes them in the right way, in the right amount, and at the right time. Being a champ at managing your patient's meds can save you a lot of time and can allow you to do other important things for yourself, and for your patient. Most importantly, it ensures that your patient gets the maximum benefits by preventing missed doses, and keeps them safe by preventing ‘double dosing.'

Be sure to follow these helpful tips:

Upon prescription:

• Ask the doctor for any clarifications regarding the prescription, like the drug name and dosage if they are not legibly written.
• Ask what the meds are for, and other details such as how much and when to give them.
• Ask the physician what to do if certain adverse effects, such as severe allergic reactions, are noted.
• Inform the physician of all the patient's medications including supplements and herbal medicines.

Upon obtaining medications from the pharmacy

• Obtain all meds from the same pharmacy whereby possible. It helps the pharmacist determine the compatibility of the drugs.
• Check if the prescription has the patient’s name on it. Double check for accuracy, ensure that what you get is the same as what is prescribed.

Getting organized

• Make a comprehensive chart. Assign one column for each of the following details: generic name, brand name, what the medication is for, date when they were prescribed, date when to stop taking them, the doctor who prescribed it, the amount to take per dose, the time to take them or the frequency, the route (how to take them), and common side effects. Assign one column for important notes, such as if they are to be taken on an empty or full stomach, if they should not be crushed, or if certain activities, such as driving, should be avoided. If you can manage, take a picture of the bottle and the pill together, and include the pictures in your chart. Be sure to include supplements and herbal medicines that the patient is taking even without prescription.
• Make a list. This time, list all medications that the patient needs to take at a certain time of day. The list is critical, especially when refilling the boxes, and when ensuring that you have the right pills at medication time.
• Keep the chart handy and take it with you in every visit to the doctor. The doctor needs to know all medications that the patient is taking, whether prescribed or not.
• Obtain three pill boxes with different colors. Each pillbox should have seven slots that are big enough to contain a day's medication. Assign a color each for the morning, afternoon, and evening pills. If possible, make four sets of these pillboxes to allow you to organize the medications up to 4 weeks.
• Update the chart and your list accordingly. Remove discontinued meds from, and add new ones to the chart and the list as appropriate.
• Set up alarms. Mobile devices allow multiple alarms to be set in a day. Even if you feel in control of your time, unexpected events can lead to missed doses.
Storing the medications
• If you have young children living with you and your patient, or if your patient who has dementia is prone to double-dosing due to forgetfulness, keep medications out of reach in a locked cabinet.
• If the patient with dementia is taking medications on their own, keep the color-coded pill boxes in separate locations. Sometimes, in their confusion, they reach for the wrong pill box even if they are color-coded for the right time of day.
• Take note if there are medications that need to be stored in the ref.
• Make a habit of checking the expiration dates of medications. For those nearing expiry, it will help if you stick a note on the bottle with the expiration date written in big letters.

Refilling supplies

• Medications that are to be taken for long-term are best to be purchased in bulk because they are cheaper. Consider mail order plans that can provide medications for up to 90 days to save you trips to the pharmacy. You may ask the patient’s insurance provider or pharmacy for this option.

Others

• Make sure no one else is taking the medication other than the patient.
• Keep the contact number of the hospital or the physician handy in case of emergencies related to taking medications.
• Familiarize yourself with the medication and dosages. Read the labels carefully. Before giving the meds, it is best to double check everything, especially if there are new additions.
• Keep a record of side effects and include details such as when they were noted.

Medication management may be overwhelming at first, but when done properly, it becomes your first ticket to a successful and less-stressed life as a caregiver.


Posted: 9/17/2021 1:28:06 PM

Help Patients Become Independent Through the Use of Assistive Devices

The need for caregiving, especially in older people, is increasing. And a problem that comes with this is that some older patients lose their independence to old age and disease.

Here's a scenario: Imagine an active retired teacher who has a debilitating chronic illness. This person loses many bodily functions until it becomes difficult for them to do things on their own. It was hard for them then when they had to give up their driving privileges. It was even harder to accept that they'd become too weak to even get on public transportation.

Whether it's about walking or doing something that they want, it's a big struggle. Take note that these people are once able-bodied and with a lot of experience about the world. They are now suddenly limited to doing a few things because of an illness.

The loss of independence can impact a patient's health and overall well-being. Caregivers must be aware that one way to help patients regain their sense of control is to provide different means for their patients to be on their own safely.

One way to foster independence is through the use of assistive devices. Assistive devices are smartly designed gadgets and equipment that help people with a loss of function perform a certain task. They are very useful and safe to use. Some assistive devices are prescribed, some are not.

1. Canes, crutches, and walkers.

These assistive devices increase a patient's base of support and improve balance to walk independently. They require a prescription because they target a specific weakness. For this reason, a patient cannot should not use the crutches belonging to another person. As a caregiver, make sure that the patient’s cane or crutches are within easy reach.

2. Hearing and vision aids.

Poor hearing and vision also limit a patient's performance of daily activities, so physicians prescribe hearing aids and eyeglasses for them. When your patients use these devices, help them put them on and take them off.

You may offer to clean them, too. Gently remove visible wax and debris from hearing aids and proceed to wipe with a damp cloth. You may clean their eyeglasses by running them under warm water and using a tiny drop of dish soap to remove oil marks on the lens. Use a lint-free towel to pat dry the lenses and the rest of the eyewear.

3. Built-up utensils, universal cuffs, plate guards, and weighted utensils.

Built-up utensils are designed for people with poor grip strength. They have a thicker handle for easier hold.

On the other hand, a universal cuff is a comfortable elastic that is strapped around the hand. It has a pocket to hold a utensil securely. It also benefits those with poor grip and coordination.

A plate guard is a dining aid that is useful for one-handed eating. It prevents food from spilling out of the plate. People with one-sided weakness or paralysis can use this device.

Weighted utensils are heavier than your usual ones. They provide additional weight to help stabilize hand and arm movements for shaky hands.

4. Reachers and grabbers.

These assistive devices help clutch items from hard-to-reach areas so that the patient doesn't need to stretch or bend excessively. Think of them as arm extensions that can pick things up. Store these devices in an accessible place.

5. Dressing devices.

Patients with limited hand function and poor coordination will appreciate these devices.

Button hooks are slipped inside a buttonhole to catch the button underneath to fasten it. Zipper pulls help pull zippers up. Sock aids and long-handled shoehorns are handy tools that patients can use to put on socks and shoes without bending over.

6. Bathing devices.

Bathing devices help patients clean and groom themselves independently yet safely. An example is a tub transfer bench. It lets the patient sit on it to get out of the tub without tripping over the tub. Handheld showers rinse hard-to-reach areas.

Similarly, shower chairs allow the patient to sit instead of just standing when taking a bath. Long-handles sponges help wash areas that are difficult to reach.

Now that you have a good idea of tools that can help your patients become more independent, you can work with the healthcare team to provide them with what they need.


Posted: 8/19/2021 3:26:56 PM

Working While Pregnant: The Dos and Don’ts for Expectant Caregivers

Caregivers are some of the most resilient and hardworking employees there are in the healthcare industry. Nothing can change that, not even pregnancy. When caregivers learn that they're expecting, they bravely carry on, sometimes right up until their due date.

A caregiver's dedication is truly amazing, but when this special time for women arrives, their safety and their unborn child's well-being take a priority.

Dos

1. Keep your obstetrician in the loop.

Your OB must know about your job and the kind of tasks that you usually do. Telling your obstetrician about your work conditions can help them prepare safety recommendations for you.

2. Tell your supervisor.

You must also inform your supervisor, and your co-workers next, that you are pregnant. Your supervisor can arrange suitable workloads for you. For example, they can assign tasks that don't involve a lot of heavy lifting or those that wouldn't trigger your nausea.

Your colleagues, on the other hand, can offer support. They'll likely understand if you need frequent toilet breaks or rest periods.

3. Bring your anti-nausea kit with you.

During your first trimester or the first three months of your pregnancy, hormonal changes usually trigger nausea. This unpleasant feeling is especially worse in the morning. Prepare a small kit that contains barf bags, tissues, a bottle of water, and some crackers. Saltine crackers help calm your stomach. Keep this kit with you even when you travel to and from work.

4. Take care of your feet.

Wear compression socks or stockings. On your third trimester of pregnancy or from the seventh month onwards, you might have swollen feet, especially after a long day.

Swelling can be uncomfortable because your shoes feel tight. You can prevent swelling by wearing compression socks or stockings. It is best to put them on in the morning upon waking up or anytime when your feet aren't tired.

The use of these socks also prevents clot formation in the leg caused by the pooling of blood late in pregnancy.

Take a few minutes during your breaks to sit comfortably and raise your legs. Elevating your feet help to drain the pooled blood in your lower leg and relieve swelling.

5. Strictly follow infection control procedures.

Getting an infection at work can have disastrous consequences for your pregnancy. You can transfer microorganisms to your baby, and your baby can have birth defects or even die in your womb. Examples of such diseases are chickenpox, shingles, measles, and rubella. Supervisors need to know your condition so they can assign you to other patients.

Dont’s

1. Do not mix cleaning chemicals or handle products with pregnancy warnings.

Before using cleaning or disinfecting products, read the label. Do not use those with pregnancy precautions. An example of a product to avoid is an oven cleaner. Oven cleaners have toxic substances that cause miscarriage and birth defects. Mixing chemicals is unsafe because it can emit harmful fumes.

2. Don't skip meals.

If large meals trigger your nausea, ask your supervisor if you could take several small breaks to have light snacks instead of the usual lunch break. Bring healthy snacks with you, especially if your workplace's cafeteria does not offer much.

3. Don't smoke or consume alcohol.

Smoking is dangerous to your health, especially to your unborn baby. Alcoholic drinks are okay to take in moderation while you're not pregnant. But consuming even a small amount of alcohol while you're expecting can harm your baby.

4. Don’t eat raw meat, fish, or unpasteurized milk products.

Raw or undercooked food can cause food-borne illnesses that can harm you and your baby. Food poisoning is also possible, so it is best to cook food thoroughly. You may have to forego your cravings for rare steaks and sushi.

Also, unpasteurized milk has not been heat-treated, which also means that the milk may be contaminated with harmful bacteria. Unpasteurized milk products are not a good choice for your calcium source.

5. Don't binge on caffeine.

Caffeine-rich drinks can stunt the baby's growth and lead to small birth size. It's better to give up caffeine while pregnant. You can consume substitutes such as decaffeinated coffee, plain water in place of colas, and fruit juices instead of energy drinks.

Caregiving while pregnant can be challenging. At times, it could even be dangerous. But with adequate preparation and precautions, you can successfully wrestle those precious nine months and welcome a healthy baby in your arms.