Preventing Falls | Welcome Home Autumn 2018
Slips, trips and falls are a major cause of injury for older people with falls representing the most serious and frequent type of accident in people aged 65 and over. Furthermore, falls are the main cause of disability and the leading cause of death from injury among people aged 75 and over in the UK (Age UK, 2018). About a third of all people aged over 65 fall each year, with higher rates among those over 75. Falling can cause distress, pain, and injury which can lead to a loss of independence and a loss of confidence with an associated decrease in well-being.
Whilst residents living in care homes are often more vulnerable to falling due to their age and frailty, falling does not have to be an inevitable part of growing older as many falls are preventable if the correct person centred strategies are in place.
At Avery Healthcare a risk management approach is taken which supports people to live as independently as possible while minimising the risk of falling. When considering actions to take to reduce the risk of falls it is important to take into account both the intrinsic (about the person themselves) and the extrinsic (the environmental and other) factors.
Intrinsic factors include; a history of previous falls; any balance, gait and mobility issues; foot health; how much and what type of medications are taken; any sight/hearing limitations; any continence issues; low blood pressure.
Extrinsic factors would include environmental factors such as badly fitting or unsuitable footwear, obstacles to avoid while walking, unfamiliar environments, poor lighting or loose flooring and rugs.
There are actions which everyone can take to help reduce their risk of falling and these include taking part in regular physical activity particularly those with a focus on muscle strengthening and balance improvement such as T’ai Chi; wearing well-fitting shoes with thin soles and low broad heels and adequate fastenings while avoiding loose-fitting or open backed slippers; treating any foot problems such as corns or ingrowing toenails; having regular eye tests and keeping glasses clean and well-fitting; keeping living areas tidy and free of trip hazards such as cables.
At Avery we also use technologies such as fall alarm mats and infrared (PIR) sensors to support person centred approaches. However, despite all of these measures to reduce risk, not all falls can be completely prevented. Should a fall occur, we carry out post fall investigation and analysis so that we can review the strategies in place and ensure that they remain the best we have available.
Overall, the most effective way to managing fall risk is to take a preventative approach, looking at the wide range of contributory factors that relate to the person and the environment in which they live while continuing to support residents to live as independently as possible.
Article by Julie Spencer, Assistant Director of Care & Quality