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Falls Risk Management: Restoring Your Facility’s Reputation

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

Accidents happen. No one is perfect. If your skilled nursing facility deals with many patients who are elderly or chronically ill, chances are they have limited mobility. But, your patients and their families rely on your team and facility to provide care without increasing their risk of a disastrous fall. Current estimates show 684,000 individuals worldwide die each year from falls.

A good reputation helps to keep a facility open and well-staffed. If your facility needs more training, better equipment, or a more effective program to handle and prevent falls, now is the time to make those changes. The lives of your patients depend on robust falls risk management.

Falls Risk Management Tips for Skilled Nursing Facilities

Consider A Reputation Management Strategy

If your facility’s reputation needs work, then everyone on the payroll must be involved in helping to restore it. With a cross-functional team, you can develop new prevention protocols, improve training for new and returning staff, and enhance the physical environment.

Part of this strategy will involve significant accountability. Take a hard look at the number of falls over the last year in your facility. Be transparent about the information with your patients and their families, and show how to improve it. Gather feedback from impacted patients and families on what they think went wrong and how it could be improved.

When dealing with those your facility serves, remember a certain amount of tact and sensitivity is necessary. Your patients suffered under your care when they could have improved. Don’t just make promises. Implement falls risk management strategies and show results over time to prove that you’ve committed to improving.

Work On Establishing Trust With The Community

Part of restoring your reputation will require significant outreach to the community you serve. Collaborate with local organizations, host community seminars and webinars, and invite experts to weigh in on improving your facility. Engage patients and their families continuously, offering different types of support and assistance so that they feel that you are just as invested as they are in your health.

Use Past Incidents To Prevent Future Patient Falls

Every fall in your facility has all the information you need to ensure it never happens again. According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, falls resulting in injury or death are considered “never events,” which means they should never occur in a healthcare setting.

The responsibility of reducing fall risks primarily lies with the staff members of a facility. By implementing effective falls risk management strategies, healthcare providers can help minimize the risk of falls or falls resulting in injury and ensure their patients’ or residents’ safety and well-being.

Interview all members involved in each fall incident–nurses, family members, tech assistants, and even housekeeping staff. Leave no stone unturned and determine what contributed to the fall. Incorporate what you have found into your new, updated program that handles patient falls and fall risk.

Develop A Strategy To Care For Patients Who Have Fallen

Part of a falls risk management strategy should include a proper protocol for patients who fall. Patients who have fallen in a long-term care facility should be examined by medical professionals as soon as possible, even if they don’t exhibit immediate symptoms. This is because falls can cause internal injuries that may not be visible or immediately apparent. For instance, the patient may have a head injury, internal bruising, or bleeding that requires prompt medical attention.

In addition to examining the patient, staff members should investigate the fall’s circumstances. This can help identify any underlying issues or hazards that may have contributed to the fall, such as slippery floors, poor lighting, or improper footwear.

Once the root cause has been identified, you should hold a post-fall huddle to develop customized interventions and encourage a culture of continuous improvement. Determine if all patients have been assessed for a post-fall response. Does your facility have adequate response equipment? Meet with representatives from various disciplines, such as nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and environmental service to address these questions and pave the way forward. Having a robust post-fall response is the best way to improve health outcomes.

By addressing these issues, staff members can help prevent future falls and improve overall patient safety. Consider adding an intensive education program for both patients and their families to help them recognize fall risk. Perhaps a patient needs physical therapy or more than one person to help them walk to the bathroom.

Boosting Your Facility’s Reputation Can Prevent Patient Falls

A poor reputation can be a challenge for a facility, but with the right strategies, you can use the information left behind from each patient fall and create a new way forward. Make sure your facility, its staff, and its patients are continuously brought up to date on new fall prevention programs and strategies.

Have questions? Joerns provides high-quality falls risk management equipment that improves patient outcomes and is skilled in implementing fall prevention strategies. Contact us for more information.

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