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Are You Ready for Facility-Wide Patient Falls Management

Written by: Michael Fragala, PhD, MBA, RN, WCC, CSPHP, AMS

Patient falls management programs play an essential role in promoting patient safety. This, in turn, reduces patient injuries, improves patient outcomes, and lowers the litigatory risks that patient care facilities face.

While implementing an effective patient falls management program is an absolute necessity, changing the status quo in large organizations is often difficult. Multiple layers of leadership, many stakeholders, and complex policies often contribute to the inertia that change drivers encounter.

Readiness for the implementation or improvement of a patient falls management program can be assessed by evaluating the presence of five important conditions. All five conditions must be met before implementing falls management practices or tools.

Mutual Understanding of Why a Patient Falls Management Program is Needed

Implementing facility-wide change requires a wide base of understanding of why change is necessary. Identifying and acknowledging the deficiencies in existing protocols requires the participation of multiple key stakeholders. This includes all team members who provide direct patient care, leadership and oversight, mid-level management, and custodians.

An understanding of the underlying necessity for change is essential for successful implementation. It’s important to note that change is almost always uncomfortable, and trying to implement large-scale changes before mutual understanding often leads to substantial resistance. Kicking things off with a discussion around why change is needed will help get everyone on the same page and reduce barriers to implementing new systems.

Established Sense of Urgency to Implement Falls Management Initiatives

An understanding of why change is needed is important; however, there also needs to be a sense of urgency to help drive the change and overcome organizational inertia. A sense of urgency goes beyond understanding that a problem exists and results from believing that change is necessary.

A sense of urgency does not necessarily need to be facility-wide but does need to include those who will be driving the change. The more widespread the sense of urgency is, the easier it will be to ultimately implement your patient falls management program.

Strategy for Securing Senior Leadership Buy-In

The support of senior leadership will be absolutely essential to implementing falls management changes. If senior leadership understands why change is necessary, they’ll be more open to supporting new initiatives. Their support, however, needs to be more than just an openness to change and should include support for a specific direction for what kind of change to implement.

Someone Willing to Lead Falls Management Implementation Efforts

Any organizational change to implement improved patient falls management practices will take a multidisciplinary approach to gain traction and success. Having a designated champion for new initiatives will help drive the implementation of new systems and avoid the loss of momentum as initial progress is made.

Resources are Readily Available to Drive Patient Falls Management Initiatives

While implementing an effective patient fall management program ultimately saves resources in the long run, it does require an initial investment. This includes financial resources and manpower. Clinicians will play an important role in implementing new systems and must be educated. A clear understanding of needed resources is important to avoid losing momentum due to unanticipated constraints.

What to Do If Your Facility Is Not Ready to Implement a Facility-Wide Patient Falls Management Program

While these five factors are important for achieving a state of readiness for facility-wide change, they may not all be present in your facility. If this is the situation that you find yourself in, focusing on meeting one area at a time is the best strategy for helping your facility ultimately become ready to improve patient safety through a patient falls management program.

Developing understanding with as many stakeholders as possible lays the foundation for change and enables you to begin developing a sense of urgency for change. When a widespread understanding of the problem and desire for change is present, it will be much more straightforward to get the buy-in of leadership and establish a designated leader for the effort.

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