Assessments, preventative measures curb falls
When it comes to reducing falls in long-term care homes, identifying residents who are most at risk and using preventative measures are the keys to success, say management staff.
According to Statistics Canada, falls account for two-thirds of injuries which limit mobility and activities for Canadians. Nearly 14,000 Canadians die as the result of falls every year.
Liz Richardson, assistant director of care at Leacock Care Centre in Orillia, says the Jarlette Health Services-owned long-term care home has many preventative measures in place to help reduce the risk of residents falling.
Two-person lifts, chair alarms, bed alarms, ensuring that residents have proper footwear and checking on residents as often as possible are some of the basic measures undertaken by staff members.
These practices have improved the quality of life for residents, Richardson notes.
“Our falls have leveled, or even gone down, and it’s just from doing the basic stuff,” she says.
Additionally, Leacock Care Centre performs assessments on residents every three months to determine risk levels. This is vital, says Richardson, because a resident’s risk level can change in little time.
Like Leacock Care Centre, Rosebridge Manor in Jasper has frequent evaluations on residents to identify those most at risk of falling.
A resident’s cognitive and physical abilities are examined. Any person taking more than five medications is automatically considered high risk, notes Nancy Unsworth, the OMNI Health Care-owned long-term care home’s director of care.
Once residents who are most at risk of having a fall have been identified, physiotherapists conduct an assessment to determine how far they can lean without having to step forward. This gauges an individual’s ability to regain their composure if they lose their balance.
Upon completion of the assessment, staff members create a care plan for the resident.
Often, this care plan involves staff members closely monitoring residents’ activities to ensure they enjoy a high quality of life while at a low risk of injuring themselves.
Rosebridge Manor, she points out, uses a “multidisciplinary approach” involving several people when creating ways to reduce a resident’s risk of falling while ensuring they maintain a high quality of life at the home.
And ensuring a high quality of life means limiting the use of restraints.
“Any restraints have to have a physician’s order and family consent, so you’re really involving everyone right from the get-go, including the resident,” says Unsworth.