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Dependency Status Assessments: Improving Outcomes & Minimizing Injury

Written by: Michael Fragala, PhD, MBA, RN, WCC, CSPHP, AMS

As part of any safe patient handling and mobility (SPHM) strategy, providers in long-term care facilities must complete a dependency status assessment for incoming and current patients. Not only does helping a patient achieve some level of independence lead to a boost in morale overall, but it also can help providers determine how much assistance they will need in moving a patient around daily.

Some patients need intense mobility assistance to perform simple tasks, while others can move with less support. A patient may exhibit no signs of mobility issues but still require supervision due to medications.


What Is a Dependency Status Assessment?

Assessing dependency status involves the evaluation of a patient’s condition based on their ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL). A patient’s level of dependence can vary, so assessing it requires an individualized approach by looking at a range of factors, such as physical capabilities and cognitive skills.

The results from these assessments can then be used to create customized care plans tailored to each patient’s needs and adjust existing care delivery methods for increased safety, comfort, and overall well-being.

Regular dependency status assessment is essential for monitoring the health of patients. This proactive approach helps healthcare teams remain vigilant in identifying potential changes or signs requiring further medical evaluation, diagnosis, or intervention – which can ultimately help prevent complications and improve patient care outcomes.

How Does Knowing Status of Dependency Minimize Injury Risk?

Continuous monitoring of a patient’s medical and safety needs is essential for successful fall prevention. Knowing the different elements of a patient’s physical, cognitive, and psychosocial abilities provides a comprehensive view of how much support new patients require to complete different tasks.

It can also be used when developing a SPHM strategy for patients who have been in a facility for some time. Regular assessment can reveal which interventions have been effective, what extra care may be needed, and the healing progress from any injuries or illnesses.

Your facility can then set a minimum and a maximum score for each type of assistive equipment (e.g. wheelchairs, walkers, mobile beds, and lifts) so that patients carefully progress as they improve. This way, there won’t be sudden transitions from one piece of equipment to another.

Leveraging SPHM Technology to Improve Care Outcomes

SPHM technology can be an invaluable asset when caring for those with a high dependency status by reducing the risk of patient injuries during manual lifting and repositioning activities. At a time when there is increased awareness around injury prevention, particularly for vulnerable populations like those with a high dependency status, this type of technology can be incredibly beneficial in creating a safer environment within the facility. With fewer injuries happening, more financial resources can be used toward other facility investments like connected care technology.

Conclusion: Dependency Status Assessments

The importance of dependency status assessments cannot be overstated: they protect your patients and your facility. By performing simple assessments and implementing patient-specific interventions, falls and injuries can often be prevented altogether. Not only does this allow for greater safety among staff, but it also allows for improved patient outcomes and efficient operation of the facility.

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