Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Multiple Sclerosis and Long Term Care: SAFETY

Knowing what I know now, what do I consider the most important factors about Multiple Sclerosis patients in long term care facilities?

Then and now, SAFETY was and is a major concern. Multiple Sclerosis progression can leave one incapable of self-preservation.

Unlike any other kind of building there just is NO WAY for movement and evacuation of everyone from a medical facility. It is more about defending and protecting until help arrives.

It is all about staff training, on-site fire protection, compartmentation, and as a last resort - exiting strategy.

Ask questions! Fire is the most obvious threat but in some areas nature may have more potential from flooding to tornados.

When we started looking, we ONLY looked at one story facilities. This is not to say that one type of building is more or less safe. What I am saying is that you must determine and find a comfort level in their safety plan and training.

A non-ambulatory person, or someone needing assistance, whether physical or mechanical, to get out of bed is not going to hop up and exit the building when fire alarms go off.

Monday night following an outing, I found myself getting Patti ready for bed when a fire drill training exercise began.

As always I was mesmerized as every staff member in the building moved in synchronized choreography to their positions and roles. Considering that staffing changes between shifts and days of the week, this is a testimony to solid training and staff paying attention to their safety assignments on any given shift or unit.

Additionally reassuring is the knowledge that one fire station is less than a mile away with two more less than two miles away.

It is understandable after a lifetime of school fire drills or ‘duck and cover’ atomic attack exercises to view safety drills a bit lackadaisically. However, Hurricane Katrina forced too many medical facilities to make God’s choices.

When considering long term care, ask until you ‘understand’ their safety plan. Are you comfortable? This is not about codes, you are asking about the safety of a loved one incapable of self-preservation.

Previous related entries:
Multiple Sclerosis and Long Term Care: Proximity

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
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musings: Patrick Ponders ...


  1. Thank you, Patrick. It seems you extend your caregiving to the larger community. This post is helpful not only for me, the MS person, but also for my husband, now in his 70s. Judy

  2. never thought about this, Patrick, but it is a vital part of choosing a facility; thanks for sharing it with us; it must have been reassuring to see the drill going on at Patti's facility and see that they apparently knew what they were doing

    hope all is well......


  3. I never knew fear until I couldn't walk. Fire, earthquakes...fear.


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