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Preventing Falls in Skilled Nursing Facilities: A Strategy Development Guide

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

Preventing falls in skilled nursing facilities poses a challenge to administrators and caretaker teams alike. Despite the rapid advance of medical technology, patients over a certain age are still falling at an alarming rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 36 million older adults will fall in the United States annually. These falls tend to compound existing conditions, requiring patients to need even more care and costing the healthcare industry time, money, and effort.

Time is of the essence when it comes to preventing falls in skilled nursing facilities. Thirty-two thousand adults die each year from these catastrophic events. Implementing a fall prevention strategy is crucial to raise your facility’s reputation, putting patients and their families at ease, and using your resources better. Nurses and medical administrators have a wealth of new implementation initiatives, technology, and proactive measures to help improve their patient’s quality of life.

Who Plays A Role In Preventing Falls In Skilled Nursing Facilities?

Stopping falls and enhancing physical mobility requires a consistent group effort. No one person can continuously follow patients, ensuring their every step is monitored. Instead, this task must belong to employees, patients, caretakers, family members, friends, and even administrative staff.

Housekeeping staff must learn to spot hazards and immediately address them. Those in charge of inventory will need to know what equipment is where and in what condition it is. Room furnishings will need to be adjusted after the intake assessment. Patients with chronic conditions and significant fall risks will require education and awareness. Family members and caretakers will need training sessions to help their loved ones. This effort can go as far as informing the community with seminars and webinars.

What Should Care Teams Look For When Preventing Falls?

If your skilled nursing facility deals with many patients over the age of 65, have a fall history, suffer from limited mobility or chronic conditions, or take medication that impacts their balance, you will need to update your assessment on intake. Not everyone will need the same level of precaution, but there will be warning signs that will assist in preventing falls in skilled nursing facilities.

Learn from past falls to update your assessment. What did patients who fell in the past suffer from, and why did they fall? Where did they fall?  How long were they on the ground?  Make sure to analyze and investigate falls when they happen so your teams can learn from them.

When To Implement A New Fall Prevention Strategy

It may seem obvious–new strategies need to be implemented right away. But your staff won’t be able to immediately pick up on a new process and follow through perfectly. New staff and old staff alike will require certain levels of training.

Some members of your team might need a refresher when it comes to preventing falls in skilled nursing facilities. They should ask what was available for fall response? Other changes might also be needed first–equipment might need to be updated, or rooms might require renovations. Consider what needs to happen to make this shift to new rules easier for everyone involved.

Where To Make Changes To Protect Patients

If your patients stay at your facility, there might be some spots where they are more likely to fall than others. Look at stairs, bathrooms, hallways, slippery areas, and exercise rooms. If your patients are at home, ensure they and their families know all the trouble regions that might cause a lack of balance.

Technology might help nurses and patients in this scenario. Look at monitoring devices, digital solutions for medical data, and equipment that patients can use. Years of technological progress have gone a long way in helping preventing falls in skilled nursing facilities. From continuous data updates to check-ins, your patients will benefit from relying on up-to-date practices and digital methods.

Why Joerns Healthcare Can Help Your Facility

Preventing falls in skilled nursing facilities might seem daunting at first, but Joerns Healthcare can help you find the right tools and tricks to implement it successfully. With cutting-edge technology and ways to maintain data, you can keep your patients comfortable and get them back on the road to recovery. Contact Joerns today to discuss your facility’s needs.

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