Shelly Mesure, MS, OTR/L
Shelly Mesure, MS, OTR/L

It’s that time of year again, the when our hospitals and nursing facilities start to fill up with patients suffering from new fractures, falls, pneumonia and other cardio-pulmonary diseases. However, have we ever thought to provide additional therapy services to our residents (and their family members) who plan to go out for the holidays?

Car transfers, ambulating on uneven surfaces, curb management, stairs at family members’ homes, caregiver training for utilizing good body mechanics, and safety education are a few therapy services we can offer.

Do you know which nursing home residents are planning to go home for a holiday meal or have plans to eat at restaurants, or even go shopping?  I would recommend getting this list together and having your therapy department screen these residents at least a week before they want to go out.

Therapy can justify an evaluation and treatment for a few sessions, with goals to improve the resident’s functional status, provide direct caregiver education to family members, and educate on safety awareness for the different environments a resident will encounter. In some cases, the therapist may even recommend a home visit if your facility provides that option.

How many times have we witnessed family members struggling to help with a loved one in and out of the car when they plan these outings? My favorite is when the 6-foot-2-inch, 200-plus-pound, linebacker-built son or grandson figures he can just pick up Grandma and swing her over his shoulder and all will be well. I would hate to be that grandmother —poor lady!

However, if we can educate that well-intended individual on the proper body mechanics — and have the tiny, 5-foot-2-inch therapist show him how easy it can be — I can all but guarantee that Grandma will not get hurt.

Another thought to consider is how many falls have occurred when your patients have gone on these outings with their families? Unfortunately, there will be those families that have Grandma or Grandpa at their dinner tables, and when the evening is over, their loved one falls in the house. The result is a hip fracture and a 9-1-1 call to end the evening.

Please avoid this scenario and have a happy and safe holiday season!

Shelly Mesure (“Measure”), MS, OTR/L, is the president and owner of A Mesured Solution Inc., a rehabilitation management consultancy with clients nationwide. A former corporate and program director for major long-term care providers, she is a much sought after speaker and writer on therapy and reimbursement issues.