Nursing homes exist because a portion of the population is dependent on constant, round-the-clock care. These patients, or residents, depend on the workers who take care of them and their surroundings. Many protocols are in place specifically to keep both residents and workers safe. If they are followed, the risks are low.
If the nursing home's exterior and interior structures are not maintained well, this could present potential hazards in the form of fire, collapse, flooding and mould.
Similar to structure safety issues, maintenance safety issues also are concerned with interior and exterior structures. In addition, though, maintenance issues include Legionnaire's Disease (due to bacteria found in spray nozzles, cooling towers, humidifiers, air conditioners and hot water systems), hazardous chemicals, asbestos, electric shock and mercury spills (from broken thermometers).
Housekeeping safety issues common in nursing homes include exposure to blood, urine and fecal matter due to needle sticks, trash removal and contaminated laundry. In addition, slips, trips and falls are a particular concern.
Blood-borne pathogens present a risk to residents and employees in nursing homes. If proper protocol when treating infected residents is not followed, infection could spread. In isolation rooms, if all materials removed from the room are not placed in red bags for special disposal, eating utensils are not sterilised or other protocols are not followed, infection could spread.
Employees and residents can develop illnesses from handling or ingesting contaminated food. Employees in nursing home kitchens must take care to heat and cool foods to their proper temperatures, use clean utensils and wash their hands frequently. Food allergies must be properly documented.
When employees do not use proper lifting techniques when caring for residents, they can cause injury to themselves and residents.
Many nursing homes are understaffed. Most nursing home employees have the best of intentions and treat residents with respect. Unfortunately, there are times when doctors, nurses, therapists and care technicians do not perform their jobs as they should. This can lead to serious patient neglect.