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Does your loved one’s senior care facility have a “no lift” policy?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect

If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other senior facility, you have a right to assume that those who care for them and others who work there do their best to prevent falls. Regardless of how much help your loved one needs on a daily basis, you likely expect that if they were to fall, there would be plenty of trained staff around who can safely get them back on their feet and determine whether they’ve been injured.

In fact, a number of facilities don’t allow staff members to pick up residents when they fall but instead require them to call 911 – even if the resident insists that they’re fine and just need a hand getting up. These “no lift” polices were the subject of a recent investigation by The Washington Post.

The investigation found that these non-emergency calls by senior care facilities have risen 30% in recent years. This has so overwhelmed response agencies that some have started charging facilities – especially “repeat offenders” – for non-emergency calls.

Why don’t some facilities handle falls themselves?

Facilities enact no lift policies for multiple reasons. For example, there may be liability concerns that employees might further injure someone who has fallen. There’s also a concern about employees suffering their own lift-related injuries. Understaffing (at least of those properly trained to safely lift people) can also play a role. That’s one reason assisted and independent living facilities are more likely to call 911 than nursing homes are. Some nursing homes, however, also have a policy of calling 911 after falls occur.

If you’re researching senior facilities for a loved one (or they’re already in one), it’s smart to find out whether they have a “no lift” policy for all falls. Do they call 911 always or only if there’s a concern that someone is injured – for example if their head struck the floor or they’re in pain after the fall.

Why should it be concerning if staffers aren’t allowed to pick people up after a fall? Aside from this practice being highly embarrassing for a resident who’s not injured, it could say something about a facility’s investment in proper equipment, training and staffing. These are all things that could lead to real and harmful neglect that might have to be addressed via legal action.