Arthritis is a condition that refers to pain and inflammation in a joint, and it affects approximately 10 million people throughout the UK. Many people living in care homes suffer from the condition, and it can have a substantial impact on their lives. It restricts some of the decisions they make on a day-to-day basis, and also influences how they approach everyday activities. Therefore, it’s important that care homes tailor their approach to care for all residents suffering from it.

Management of arthritis in care homes can help deliver a more comfortable lifestyle to those living with the condition. As it is such a common condition, implementing effective precautions and making sure the right care is provided should be among a care home’s main concerns.

Failure to efficiently manage arthritis can demoralise residents and cause them to feel let down by the care they are receiving. It can also be a waste of the healthcare establishment’s resources, time and budget. However, successful management of the condition can be extremely beneficial to the resident’s physical and emotional wellbeing, and help towards preventing the condition from worsening. It’s vital that all residents feel as though the care home is doing everything in their power to provide care that meets their unique and specific requirements.

Types of Arthritis

Although it isn’t an inevitable part of ageing and younger people still can suffer from the condition, elderly people are much more likely to be diagnosed with arthritis due to increase wear and tear on the joints. There are several types of arthritis, but the two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is much more prevalent than rheumatoid arthritis, and results in stiffness and pain in the joints. It initially develops by affecting the smooth cartilage lining of the joint, which makes movement particularly difficult (resulting in stiffness and pain). Extreme cartilage loss can cause bone to rub against bone, which therefore changes the shape of the joint and forces the bones into an irregular position. Knees and hips are two of the most likely joints to be affected by osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis isn’t as common as osteoarthritis, and is diagnosed when pain and swelling is caused as a result of the immune system targeting your joints. Rather than fighting infection, your immune system mistakenly attacks the cells lining your joints, causing swelling, stiffness and pain. It’s not clear what causes the immune system to attack the joints, but it can lead to further damage to the joint, cartilage and nearby bone.

Care Plans & Arthritis

A person-centred care approach is the best way to ensure each individual resident is supported in a way that works for them and their requirements. Each resident is bound to have different needs, so by creating a comprehensive and person-centred care plan, you can make sure that all their requirements are catered for.

People with arthritis are more likely to encounter physical difficulties, so all risks that have been highlighted in their risk assessment must be stated on the plan, and steps must be introduced in order to reduce the chance of the risk developing. The resident’s Activities for Daily Living (ADLs) and individual goals should also be included on the plan.

Supporting Residents to Manage Arthritis

Living with arthritis to any degree isn’t easy, and carrying out tasks that were once simple can be painful. However, there are ways that it can be managed, and it’s essential that care establishments encourage all residents to manage their condition as best as they can, with the support of carers if needed. This should help provide residents with a better quality of life, and also help avoid encountering further complications.

One beneficial way a care home can support a resident to maintain their independence is by providing some practical tools and gadgets to help make everyday activities easier. Little tasks can be a challenge, but they can be made simpler by the introduction of some effective tools. For example, adding levers to taps can make them easier to turn, supplying residents with a long reach grabber may help them to pick up items that may have fallen onto the floor, and providing them with cutlery that has extra grip on and can be held in several positions might make mealtimes more comfortable. Other things that people suffering from arthritis are likely to benefit from include installing hand rails throughout the home and fixing grips to doorknobs and handles to make them easier to twist/open.

Providing healthy meals to all residents, but particularly those with arthritis, should be a focus of every care home. Maintaining a healthy weight will help to avoid any unnecessary weight or stress on the joints, easing the pain and reducing the chance of further damage developing.

Regular exercise can also be beneficial to residents as it can help to reduce pain and improve joint mobility. However, it’s crucial that the residents only carry out valuable exercises and ones they enjoy, as depending on the severity and location of their condition, certain movements may be too painful. The type of movements and exercises that the resident might be encouraged to perform should be included in their comprehensive care plan.

It’s possible that arthritis can get worse, even if they have followed their person-centred care plan. In this scenario, it’s essential that the resident has access to all relevant resources to further help them manage it. Care homes must be prepared to organise visits of specialist health professionals if required, so that the wellbeing of the resident is never compromised.

Care Home Software & Arthritis

Utilising innovative care home software and digital healthcare records within care establishments will help staff to easily record and communicate the management of each resident’s arthritis and day-to-day routine. It ensures that residents are receiving consistent care, and helps to keep the wellbeing of all residents a priority.

By keeping a clear record of each resident’s daily routine, it’s easier for carers to notice any potential issues or patterns that may arise. Perhaps a particular resident’s exercise activity has gradually decreased, suggesting that their arthritis isn’t being managed as well as it once was. This allows the carer to review the care plan and make sure the condition is effectively managed going forward.

Arthritis and CareDocs

Here at CareDocs, we’re passionate about helping care homes deliver high quality care to all residents. Our comprehensive care planning solution and easy-to-use care home management software has been designed to help care managers and their staff effectively manage their care home, and make a difference to their residents.

Arthritis is a complex condition that requires meticulous care, and CareDocs’ innovative software can help pave the way to proactive management of the condition. For more information, please get in touch with a member of our friendly team today.

See more: How to Improve Exercise and Activity in Care Homes

See more: Care Planning for Patients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

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