Toddlers, children, teenagers, adults – all of us are likely at some stage in our developing lives to take a tumble of some sort or other. By and large these falls are only minor with nothing more than embarrassment of the abiding memory of the incident or a few bruises. Even if the fall necessitates medical intervention, recovery is generally swift with swelling going down quickly and fractures of younger bones mending well.
For older people, the situation is different: bones become more brittle with age and recovery time is much longer. Any fall can impact seriously on the quality of life of the older person with anxiety, social isolation, an increased tendency to depression, mental health problems and loss of independence inherent consequences.
According to research published by the Department of Health (2009), 50% of older people living in the community fall each year with the incidence rate three times higher amongst residents in care homes.
Falls are emotive, arouse anxiety and can lead to complaints and threats of litigation from loved ones. It is the legal responsibility of care home managers to manage the risk of falls within their individual home setting. Therefore, it is paramount that a care home has stringent monitoring, protocols and practices in place to reduce the risk of falls and ensure that it does its utmost to keep residents safe whilst at the same time encouraging their mobility and independence and promoting their mental health and wellbeing. In actively doing so, residents will feel cared for and your care home setting will be a happier place.
5 Useful Tips on How to Manage Risk
1. Understanding the Needs of Residents
First and foremost, assess and understand the needs of any potential new resident pre-admission and complete a risk assessment: has the person fallen in the last year? How often? Has this impacted on mobility or daily routines such as washing, dressing, general self-care? Are there inherent difficulties with mobility or balance? Are there visual or health problems which might augment the risk of falling?
Have systems in place which safely store this information and make it easy to be shared. Try to avoid unnecessary repetition for the prospective resident of any information already shared at the initial assessment meeting: unless there is a change in circumstances, there should be no need for these questions to be asked again.
2. Share Information
Share pertinent information with ALL staff: the more each of your employees knows about the needs of your residents, the better placed they will be to look out for them whether in the dining room, the corridor, the lounge or outside. Be sure to update records and reshape them, should additional issues arise post admission: despite your best endeavours to understand your new resident and their needs, unfamiliarity with new surroundings can lead to raised stress levels in your client and may increase the risk of falls.
This is where care home software can be great to help increase effective communication within a care home setting.
3. Show Patience
Encourage independence and mobility in your residents and show care and patience at all times. Residents may have come straight to you from a long hospital stay, energy levels may be low and muscles weak. This may be a very new and alarming time for them; a time where they feel they have lost their independence for ever. Ensure staff are to hand to assist with every day mobility needs such as washing, toileting, walking, sitting, dining. At the same time, however, educate your residents in the use of facilities to hand such as walking sticks or frames, grab rails in bathrooms, hand rails along the corridors so that residents maintain and improve their mobility and independence.
4. Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation
Employ your own in-house physiotherapist to work specifically with residents on confidence-building exercises that rebuild lost muscle and facilitate a gradual return to mobility. Map both physical and mental agility exercises succinctly into the day to keep residents involved and active and reduce an innate tendency to retreat to their rooms in their new and unfamiliar surroundings.
5. Assess Potential Hazards
Risk assess your care home for potential trip hazards such as rugs, chair legs, trolleys, loose cables and remove. Install slip resistant flooring in bathrooms and low pile flooring in all areas to ensure ease of movement of residents whether they need a mobility aid or not. Train all staff in managing and reducing the risk of falls
Continue to risk assess your care home setting on a regular basis for trip hazards that may accidentally occur: you may think you have every conceivable policy, protocol and practice in place to avoid falls but in a busy, reactive working environment these can sometimes be overlooked as unexpected issues present themselves.
Learn More About CareDocs
We hope the above has given you some insight into how best to manage and counteract falls in your care home setting. Key to doing the best you possibly can by each and every resident is the facility to store all pertinent information in ONE secure yet easily accessible space, so that staff are able to access and if necessary update this information at the drop of a hat.
This is where our team at CareDocs can help. With our person-centred approach to managing and preventing falls and fractures, CareDocs simplifies day to day recording and updating of care plans, giving staff more time to dedicate to residents whilst ensuring care records are always fully up to date and accessible from any mobile device. CareDocs rule out the need for extensive and archaic paper-based forms. There is no duplication of paperwork, no paper files, no need for storage space.
Assessments can be completed with ease at any time from any mobile device with direct involvement of the individual concerned. This in turn personalises the experience for the individual as they can be fully involved in the recording process. All new information is then immediately available for all staff who have access to view: no need for lengthy confidential emails, no more queueing to access paper files in a spare moment.
If you would like to find out more about how the CareDocs system can benefit your care home, please get in touch with a member of our friendly team today.