BACKGROUND

You are an occupational therapist who receives a referral to complete a home safety assessment for Mrs. C. Mrs. C is 70 years old, has arthritis in both of her knees, and was diagnosed with middle-stage Alzheimer’s about one month ago. Mrs. C has reported moderate memory impairments and increasing difficulties with word-finding. Mrs. C uses a single point cane to assist with walking and occasionally may need support with transfers. Mrs. C lives with her husband but does spend time alone at home for a few hours when her husband runs errands.  

During the home assessment, you notice a power recliner lift chair in Mrs. C’s living room. Mrs. C’s husband says she spends most of her day seated in the powerchair to assist with transfers when her arthritis flares up.

You recall reading a recent circulation from the College, 2022 College Response to the Coroner’s Report: Deaths from Power Recliner Lift Chairs, that outlines the risks of using power recliner lift chairs for individuals with cognitive decline. Based on your reading and the recent changes to Mrs. C’s health, you want to ensure you address any potential safety concerns with her use of the power recline-lift chair.  


CONSIDERATIONS 

You remember from the 2022 College Response to the Coroner’s Report: Deaths from Power Recliner Lift Chairs that power recliner lift chairs may pose a greater risk for injury or death for individuals who are mobility challenged and cognitively impaired.

You decide to engage the client in an assessment to determine if Mrs. C can operate the chair safely. To understand the risks the chair poses to Mrs. C you observe how she typically uses the chair and gather information regarding her physical and cognitive abilities.

You use the Risk Management Cycle from the PREP Module: Managing Risks in Occupational Therapy Practice to determine the likelihood, severity, and impact of the risks of Mrs. C using the power recliner lift chair without supervision. During your assessment you notice the following concerns:

  • Mrs. C needed help operating the chair’s remote control as she tends to randomly push the buttons on the remote in hopes it will activate the correct movement of the chair.
  • Mrs. C did not stop the chair at a safe incline to stand.
  • Mrs. C did not have her cane within reaching distance and almost fell from the chair upon standing.
     

OUTCOME

Based on your assessment, you determine that Mrs. C is at high risk for injury if she continues to operate her power lift recline chair without supervision. You educate Mrs. C and her husband about the risks associated with using a power recliner lift chair.

The risks discussed include:

  • Falling out of the chair which could cause serious injury and potential death.
  • Cognitive decline may lead to poor judgement related to when and when not to engage the chair.
  • Individuals who use mobility devices may have an increased risk for falls.
  • Risk of injury may be higher for those who present with these multiple factors and spend prolonged periods of time using the device unsupervised. 

CONCLUSION

Upon discussing and considering the risks associated with operating the power recliner lift chair, Mrs. C and her husband agree that she should not use the chair unsupervised.  You work collaboratively with the client to co-create a plan for safety which includes having her husband run errands when support staff are present or unplugging the chair if he needs to leave her alone for short periods. If there are further changes to Mrs. C’s condition, you instruct her husband he can re-contact you to reassess. 

RESOURCES

CONTACT

If you have questions about the application of College Standards and resources, contact the Practice Resource Service: 1.800.890.6570/416.214.1177x240 or practice@coto.org.

Want more case studies? Sign up to stay up to date and receive the latest cases when they’re released.




Back to Case Study Archive