Nursing homes are designed to provide residents with a safe place to live while they recover from illness and injury. However, these facilities are also susceptible to falls, which can be life-threatening for those living there. In fact, one study found that approximately 15% of nursing home residents fall every year—and about 20% of these individuals sustain injuries as a result.
To reduce the number of falls experienced by your facility’s residents, consider these 6 tips:
1. Request a fall risk assessment for each resident.
A fall risk assessment is a medical evaluation that helps healthcare providers identify factors that may increase the risk of falling and recommend strategies to reduce the likelihood of future falls. Requesting this assessment for every resident will help ensure that each person gets appropriate care or interventions to reduce their risk of falling. To ensure that these assessments are accurate, make sure to use Electronic Health Records to log the results of these assessments so they are accessible to all staff members.
2. Address and treat the underlying cause of a fall.
If a resident has suffered from a previous fall or injury, it's important to address their medical condition before they're discharged from the hospital or rehab center. For example, if an elderly patient has broken his/her hip and requires surgery or physical therapy, it may be necessary to modify his/her care plan until he/she is ready to return home. This may involve using assistive devices such as walkers or wheelchairs or hiring aides who can help provide assistance with walking around the facility.
3. Have adequate lighting and signage.
Installing adequate lighting and signage can help reduce the risk of falls by improving visibility in areas where residents might be prone to tripping or slipping. Make sure corridors and hallways have good lighting, especially at night when residents may be more likely to wander around at night due to confusion or insomnia. You should also install well-placed signs that indicate where staircases and elevators are located so that residents can easily find their way around your facility without having to ask someone else for directions each time they need to go somewhere new.
4. Assistive devices.
Many residents who fall will require assistance in getting up, especially if they're on multiple medications. Nursing home staff may use a bed alarm to alert others when a resident falls out of bed. This device consists of a small box that sits under the mattress and attaches to the resident's side rail. If someone tries to get out of bed and doesn't have enough muscle strength to push themselves up onto their feet, the alarm will sound and alert staff members, who can come help them get back into bed safely.
5. Avoid slippery surfaces.
Slippery surfaces are one of the most common causes of resident falls in nursing homes. This is because they make it difficult for residents to maintain their balance, especially when walking or standing up from sitting down.
Some common causes of slippery surfaces include:
Water spills on floors and carpets
Ice on sidewalks or outdoors
Exhaustion after a long day
Clean up as soon as possible after any water spills inside your facility to prevent slippery surfaces from forming. If your residents have access to wet areas like bathrooms or kitchens, consider using non-slip floor mats or rugs in these areas to help prevent slips and falls from occurring.
6. Educate family members on how to minimize falls at home.
Family members may not be aware of the risk factors for falls in their loved one or be able to identify whether a fall has occurred. They may also not know how to help prevent falls in nursing homes or at home. Therefore, it is important that they are educated on these topics prior to discharge. The following suggestions should be reviewed with family members:
Reminders about medication side effects and when they should be taken
The importance of maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine
How to safely use the bathroom during nighttime hours
How to properly use walkers and other mobility devices
One thing not to forget is the cost of the falls to the hospital emergency rooms and rehab facilities. Residents in nursing homes who fall and break something can be prevented from the injury with a little help from their nurses, aides, and caretakers. As long as you are diligent in working at preventing falls by following these suggestions it should help reduce your nursing home resident's fall risk.