How often do you or members of your staff wheel residents up to tables for meals? As we think about simple ways to incorporate Function Focused Care into every day routines, especially for residents in wheelchairs, this is a great place to start…at the table.
First, determine with staff which residents can self-propel to meals instead of being pushed. Choose a few residents to begin, and have staff give them extra time to get to the dining room. Be sure to encourage and praise these residents for their efforts and explain the benefits of this extra physical activity. Ask family members who come for meals to encourage their loved ones to self-propel as well. Sometimes it helps to stand next to the resident in their wheelchair and hold their hand as they self-propel. Talk to the resident about their day while walking together, and note that it’s nice to be able to look at them face to face while walking instead of standing behind them while pushing their wheelchair.
Next, choose a few residents who are able to transfer with minimal assistance from one staff member. Have these residents transfer out of their wheelchairs and into regular dining chairs for at least one meal per day to begin. Explain to staff, residents and their family members why this is beneficial: transferring helps maintain lower body strength and therefore can help prevent falls; getting out of a wheelchair, even to sit in a different chair, can help prevent pressure sores; and sitting in a regular chair can improve the sense of dignity for a resident, among other benefits.
Start slowly…don’t pick one day to transfer everyone at once! Choose a few people to start with and go from there. Ask family members to assist by encouraging their loved ones, and encourage staff to spend a few minutes to do this. In the long run, it will help keep residents stronger and more functional, which saves time for everyone.