Preventing Falls in Care Homes
Preventing Falls in Care Homes
Falls in care homes can be a major problem, causing serious injury to residents - or even death. Falls may mean time spent in hospital and increased healthcare costs, and could put residents at risk of infections such as C-diff or MRSA if the fall results in an open wound, or surgery is needed.
In addition, residents in care homes are more vulnerable to injury, as they are often have physical or neurological problems that prevent them from being able to react quickly and avoid a) any hazards in the first place, and b) injury to themselves if they should fall.
Why do falls occur in care homes?
Falls can occur in care homes for a number of reasons.
- Age – older people are more prone to falls than younger people.
- Confusion – residents suffering from dementia or other conditions which cause confusion and disorientation might not be aware of their surroundings or their own physical limitations; they might try and stand or walk when they are not able to without assistance.
- Medications - some medications cause dizziness, drowsiness or low blood pressure, all of which could result in a fall.
- Poor balance, co-ordination or mobility - elderly people may have poor balance, or walk in an unnatural way. Conditions such as stroke can severely affect balance and co-ordination.
- Other physical issues - residents with weak or jerky muscles, heart problems, neurological problems or diseases such as arthritis or Parkinson’s are also prone to falls. Lack of muscle control means that the resident.
- Slow reactions - older people or those with neurological problems may not respond to dangers as quickly as younger people. This may mean they cannot avoid a hazard in time, or simply that they cannot react in time to catch themselves if they fall.
- Obstacles or hazards - an untidy environment can be dangerous. Residents’ rooms and communal areas should be kept clutter free, and any spills of liquid should be cleaned up immediately.
How can falls in care homes be prevented?
There are two types of fall prevention:
- Primary prevention means putting measures in place to prevent falls in people who have not already had a fall. These could be making changes to medication, increasing exercise, and removing any environmental hazards such as loose electrical cables or rugs.
- Secondary prevention means preventing further falls in those who have fallen previously. Prevention in this case will likely be similar to primary prevention, but more specific measures may be required depending on how the original fall occurred.
Anyone who takes care of a resident must make sure that that resident is kept safe. The resident must be assessed to find out whether he or she is at risk for falls, and reassessed if his or her condition changes, such as with an illness, or a change in medication.
Because falls may occur for different reasons, it is important that each resident be assessed individually to ensure that his or her specific needs are met and risk factors are minimised.
Frequent monitoring and observation of residents is very important, as is ensuring that residents can access staff call buttons and assistive devices (if required) at all times.
Above all, preventing falls in care homes, like infection control, is a team effort. Every member of staff should be encouraged to play his or her part in making the care home environment as safe and hazard-free as possible.
N.B. This article has been provided for interest only. Please speak to your care home owner or manager for current guidelines.
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