Nursing Home Patients Spend Too Much Time in Wheelchairs

Do nursing home patients spend too much time in wheelchairs?  Are nursing home and assisted living patients too often "parked" in wheelchairs and neglected by staff?  There's been a recent push to help patients spend less time in wheelchairs and more time walking and using seating surfaces other than wheelchairs.  And with good reason.  As nursing home or assisted living patients spend more time in wheelchairs, they run a much greater risk of developing severe pressure ulcers (bedsores), blood clots, and muscle wasting.  What else is at stake?  A loss of dignity, a loss of self-worth, and a loss of the will to become more independent.

According to GROW (Get Residents Out of Wheelchairs), an organization which leads the push to reduce wheelchair use, patients should be encouraged to be more mobile -- they should be walked to meals, walked to the bathroom, and go on walks outside with family -- as long as they have the assistance they need.  When patients need to sit, they should be seated in chairs and on couches and repositioned more frequently.  As a recent article makes clear, wheelchairs should never be used because they're more convenient or as a crutch (no pun intended) for nursing homes and assisted living facilities that choose to understaff. Read more about the effects of wheelchair overuse.