You may find yourself worrying that your loved one will fall when you’re not home. Or wondering whether their home could be safer and their daily tasks easier. Or maybe you’re struggling with the decision to transfer their care to a nursing home.
Figuring these things out on your own can be tricky. That’s why we offer various clinical assessments to give you helpful and honest answers.
Clinical Assessments Offered by VNS Health
A VNS Health professional can conduct three different clinical assessments for you or your loved one.
Home Safety Screening
According to a survey conducted by AARP, 77% of adults 50 years and older want to age in place in their own homes — yet many have concerns or have not prepared their home to do so.
To help your loved one age comfortably — and safely — at home, VNS Health can take a look at your loved one’s home environment to see whether there are any safety concerns or opportunities for improvement.
A home safety screening assessment takes into account things like:
- Building exterior and entrance: Are there any outdoor hazards that could lead to an accident? Can your loved one enter and leave their home safely?
- Interior lighting, flooring, and pathways: Is there enough light to see? Is the floor slippery or uneven? Can your loved one easily move around in the house?
- Problematic clutter, wire, cords, and faulty conditions: What tripping hazards might lead to a fall? Are there any structural or electrical concerns?
- Bathroom and kitchen safety, including appliances: Can your loved one safely get in and out of the shower or tub? Is everything in their home working?
After analyzing all this information, your VNS Health team member will make personal recommendations that may include:
- Identifying any immediate concerns that should be shared with your loved one’s doctor
- Pointing out ways to make your loved one’s home safer
- Recommending helpful home safety tools
- Sharing community resources
Fall Prevention Assessment
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year more than one in four American seniors experiences a fall — and less than half tell their doctors.
Falls not only can lead to serious injuries in the moment but also can trigger health problems that could limit your loved one’s independence.
Our fall prevention assessment will look at things like your loved one’s:
- Physical ability, like how they move, walk around, and balance
- Use of mobility devices like a walker, cane, or wheelchair
- Choice of footwear and how much support it offers
- Medical conditions and any medications they’re taking
- Cognitive abilities like their memory, awareness, and understanding
- Food and water intake, to see whether they are getting the right nutrients to maintain strength
On the basis of these observations and other risk factors in the home, a VNS Health team member will make recommendations to help your loved one prevent slips and falls.
These recommendations may include:
- Education to support the needs of your loved one
- Physical rehab or exercise
- Medication management
- Home safety changes
PRI Assessment: When a Nursing Home Is the Right Option
If you or a doctor thinks that your loved one will be most comfortable and cared for in a nursing facility, you will need a Patient Review Instrument (PRI) assessment. This assessment determines the type of facility and level of care your loved one needs. New York State law requires a PRI assessment for admission to a nursing home.
The PRI assessment will review information related to your loved one’s:
- Medical condition/diagnosis
- Medications needed
- Diet, including textures that affect swallowing
- Therapies required
- Physical and mental abilities — including their ability to complete daily tasks
- Behaviors that may need additional support such as aggressiveness, anxiety, or depression
It can be an overwhelming and emotional process to make the decision to transition your loved one to a nursing facility, but VNS Health can help make it easier.
VNS Health can still provide home care for a loved one in a nursing home if you feel additional help is needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a clinical assessment?
A clinical assessment is a tool used by a nurse or other health care worker to help you better understand your loved one’s current situation and needs.
Think of it like working in a restaurant. A restaurant manager needs to make sure the kitchen is safe for employees, that food is prepared safely, and that dining areas and bathrooms are clean. A health department will provide standards, and a restaurant manager will use the standards to develop checklists to provide objective insights and ensure that guidelines are followed. This reduces the risk of injury and illness.
In a similar way, clinical assessments are tools used by health care workers to get a better idea of the safety risks your loved one faces in various situations. With the right criteria, a VNS Health team member can help you see your loved one from an honest perspective — just like the restaurant manager.
It’s important to remember that a clinical assessment is not a test that you pass or fail. A clinical assessment is simply a standard tool that gives you the information you need to best support and care for your loved one.
Why would I get a clinical assessment done?
Two main scenarios might lead to you getting a clinical assessment for your loved one:
- Your loved one’s provider may suggest you look into a clinical assessment.
- You may decide on your own as a caregiver that a clinical assessment would be beneficial.
Clinical assessments can help you understand your loved one’s condition and offer ways to manage it. They can also give you peace of mind, knowing you’re doing all you can to protect your loved one’s safety and independence.
When is a clinical assessment a good idea?
It’s especially a good idea to consider a clinical assessment if:
- Your loved one has recently had a fall — or a few close calls
- You are concerned about your loved one’s safety or comfort
- Your loved one is struggling with everyday tasks or activities
- You often worry about your loved one when you’re not there with them
- You are considering different options for your loved one’s care
A clinical assessment is never a bad idea when it comes to caring for your loved one. What you learn during a clinical assessment can give you the reassurance that your loved one is safe in their home or give you the information you need to make the decisions that will ensure their safety going forward.
Does insurance cover clinical assessments?
Most clinical assessments are not covered by insurance and are paid for privately.
PRI assessments, however, are covered by Medicaid.
For more information, check out our Guide to Paying for Care.
What happens during a clinical assessment? Should I do anything to prepare?
During a clinical assessment, a team member from VNS Health will visit your loved one’s home. They’ll introduce themselves and tell you and your loved one what they’re going to be looking at. Depending on what type of assessment you’ve asked for, they may ask you or your loved one to walk them through the home, or they may ask you questions about day-to-day habits. Overall, the clinical assessment will take 45–60 minutes.
You don’t need to do anything in your loved one’s home to prepare for a clinical assessment. It is a good idea, however, to let your loved one know that someone from VNS Health is going to be visiting and taking a look around their home.
Your loved one might feel a little nervous or uncomfortable about someone visiting, so reassure them that this is going to be an easy process. What you learn from the clinical assessment can be really helpful to both of you — and the positives outweigh any momentary discomfort.
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