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Recognising and responding to deterioration in a client

  • 4 mins

Working with older, vulnerable people and children, you may find yourself in a situation where you are required to recognise and respond to a negative change in the condition of a service recipient (deterioration).
Finding yourself in a situation like this may present challenges and can become stressful if you are not prepared. To assist you, we encourage you to read through the below information which provides practical advice as to how to respond to deterioration in a service recipient.
What is considered an emergency?
If you believe there is an immediate risk to a person’s health or life, this is an emergency, and you must call emergency services by dialling 000.
If you are unsure whether emergency services are required, you are able to call Healthdirect (1800 022 222). Healthdirect will conduct a comprehensive telephone assessment and recommend the most appropriate time and place of ongoing care required for the specific service recipient’s condition. They can advise you if there is a need to call an ambulance for immediate help.
Healthdirect can also be contacted for advice surrounding wound dressing changes and advice involving medication administration issues.
Please note that if an ambulance is called for a non-urgent incident, an ambulance will still be dispatched.
If the client is elderly, an infant or very young, and you are seriously concerned, always call an ambulance. Moreover, note that children can often mask serious symptoms, and their condition can then quickly deteriorate.
Examples of when to call an ambulance
It is advisable to call an ambulance immediately in the following situations and then administer First Aid while waiting for assistance:
• If the Service Recipient is experiencing unexplained chest pains, struggling to breathe, or appears not to be breathing, or breathing in a strange way (using other muscles in the neck to breathe, sucking in below the rib cage, use of abdominal muscles).
• If the Service Recipient has a severe injury that is bleeding and you are unable to stop the bleeding with direct pressure to the wound.
• If the Service Recipient is unconscious or unaware of their surroundings or experiencing weakness, numbness or difficulty speaking.
• If the Service Recipient is experiencing a seizure for the first time, even if they seem to recover from it later, or if the person is having a seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes.
• If a Service Recipient has a severe allergic reaction, it is essential to administer their adrenaline auto-injector (if they have one) and then phone an ambulance immediately.
• If the Service Recipient has received a burn(s), it is essential to treat the area under running cool water. Call Healthdirect for further recommendations.
• If the Service Recipient is very pale, sweating, dizzy, trembling and in severe pain after an injury or becoming unwell suddenly.
• If the Service Recipient has had a fall, they are unable to move, is in severe pain and there is a possibility of a spinal injury, keep them completely still and get an ambulance on the way. If they are on their back, unconscious and breathing and you are concerned about their airway – very carefully roll them into the recovery position, be careful not to twist the spine if possible, and then phone an ambulance.
• Particularly with the elderly and very young, in the presence of prolonged vomiting and diarrhoea.
Should you notice any variation or change in a service recipient’s overall wellbeing, you are required to notify HenderCare as soon as possible.
Should you require further clarification or assistance, please call a HenderCare Coordinator on 1300 764 433. We encourage all team members to save the Healthdirect number in your phone for future use as needed.

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