Risk Prevention for a Safer Work Environment in Senior Living Facilities

Risk management and prevention are important components for maintaining a safe workplace and running profitable healthcare businesses such as senior living facilities. Understanding the drivers of risk is a good first step to prevention and cost containment.

When it comes to senior living facilities there are commonalities among the types of injuries workers incur, and they typically fall into a small number of categories.

Most Common Injuries within Senior Living Facilities

In senior living facilities, injuries related to patient handling, slips & falls, and repetitive use are among the most common. Many of them can be prevented with a risk prevention plan that includes education, training, and reinforcement. For example, there could be a protocol in place around the immediate clean-up of spilled liquids to prevent accidental slips or a rule that lifting a disabled resident requires the use of a Hoyer lifts to prevent worker strains. To prevent claims, additional insurance costs, or even potential lawsuits, it is extremely important that each facility develop a risk prevention plan, and train workers to ensure the plan is being implemented.

Helping Directors of Nursing or Operations Get Started with a Risk Prevention Plan

Insurance agents can play a key role in helping their clients mitigate risk by offering comprehensive risk management strategies, employee safety training tools, and loss control as part of their value proposition. These value-added services can assist facility directors to protect their workers, reduce costs, and increase the profitability of their business.

There are several ways insurance agents can help their clients begin:

  • Create, document and implement a comprehensive risk prevention plan and educate all employees about the facility’s approved and mandated safety practices. Appoint a Director of Safety to oversee the program and conduct regularly scheduled meetings to ensure that the integral steps are followed. There are many checklists available that serve as an initial step for creating a plan.
  • Encourage ongoing employee training to provide updated, industry-specific education on safety protocols. Many carriers have easy-to-access, online lessons to help deliver these trainings. Some even deliver them through apps available on the employees’ smart devices.
  • Consult on ways to identify and mitigate slip, trip, and fall hazards – Helpful measures include immediate cleaning of spills, fixing or installing handrails, proper lighting, organization of electrical cords so they are out of the way of feet, and removing loose rugs or mats. Mandating and/or providing non-slip shoes is also a smart idea.
  • Outline the ROI of using specialized patient lifting equipment – Proper lifting equipment is just as beneficial for the safety of the employees as it is for the residents. Mistakes could have long-term negative business consequences should someone become injured. By explaining the benefits of purchasing lifting equipment, insureds will gain an understanding of the long-term financial impact of not doing so.

There is an upfront cost when purchasing lifting equipment. However, an agent can easily diagram that the $2,000-$4,000 average cost per room for safe patient handling equipment could end up being recouped within two to three years in comparison to the potential for frequency and severity of Workers’ Compensation claims.

  • Help set up or enhance injury reporting protocols – Timely reporting of injuries, including near-miss incidents, makes it easier to mitigate occupational hazards and often leads to lower claims costs when injuries are reported sooner rather than later. Employees should be reminded of these best practices on a regular basis.
  • Suggest Stress Management programs – While we often focus on the physical aspects of injury prevention, helping employees maintain their mental and emotional health can also lead to fewer workplace injuries. Providing access to wellness programs such as yoga, meditation, and aerobic exercise are good examples.
  • Send a link to discounted Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and encourage manager accountability – holding managers accountable for the use of PPE or providing an incentive for managers to keep their employees safe while on duty can result in fewer injuries and lower claims.

PMC Risk Management and Prevention Services Available

The PMC Healthcare Team has extensive experience in risk management for senior living facility operations and provides many of the resources named above for agents and their clients. Our Risk Management Services include everything from consulting to video loss control reviews to boots-on-the-ground training. Our risk prevention and training programs are customized to individual business needs. For more information contact us at info@pmcinsurance.com.

By PMC Insurance Group

Since 1996, PMC Insurance Group has worked to help independent agents grow their client base by offering workers' compensation solutions for a wide array of businesses. As one of the most distinguished workers' compensation wholesalers in the country, we have the tools and resources to help you create coverage programs for both small businesses and large accounts.