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Emphasizing Toileting Safety in Falls Prevention Strategies

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

Falls prevention strategies should consider every element of a patient’s life. For example, a patient who might struggle with mobility, balance, or perception will almost certainly find it difficult to use the bathroom. Slippery surfaces, a lack of sturdy elements to hold onto, and dirty surfaces all present fall complications.

Long-term patient facilities and care teams understand that one of the first steps in a care plan for fall risk includes evaluating bathroom falls and preventing them. One study found that the bathroom is one of the top-ranked locations of injuries in the United States for those 65 and older.

However, care teams must also understand that this topic requires delicate implementation and a tactful approach. Updating falls prevention strategies should incorporate a sensitive, careful initiative for handling toileting safety.

Finding The Balance Between Independence & Apathy

Imagine a patient with a high risk of falling keeps getting up and going to the bathroom, hoping the nurses will not notice or make a big fuss over it. They slip and fall in the facility bathroom because they don’t know how to deal with vertigo caused by their medication.

Meanwhile, in the room next door, another patient refuses to work with their physical therapist to learn how to walk from the bed to the bathroom. They would rather explore other treatment options than regain independence.

A one-size-fits-all strategy won’t help these patients recover correctly. However, some standard procedures must be followed.

For example, each patient will need constant monitoring for changes in their health. They will need nurses and technicians to help them safely relieve themselves as appropriate. They will also need encouragement and tools to relearn to walk to the bathroom again so that, hopefully, they can return home to their loved ones.

Developing Robust Falls Prevention Strategies

Patient engagement can help care teams tailor a care plan for fall risk for each individual. These individuals might need more medical attention based on conditions, medications, the extent of injuries, and whether or not they have fallen before. Technology can help measure risk levels accurately and continuously, lowering the chances of falling even more.

Patients will need a certain level of dignity and privacy when it comes to toileting, even if they require a team of people to help them. Discuss the use of privacy sheets, and look into equipment that might reduce the number of people in the room.

Patients ready to begin rehabilitating back to independence will need education through hands-on teaching, physical therapy, and community support. Community support includes interacting with those who deal with the patient regularly. Nurses and facilities may have to work with family members and caretakers to ensure the bathrooms at home are safe.

Consider taking an interdisciplinary approach to your falls prevention strategies. Include representatives from various disciplines, such as nursing, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Team diversity ensures a well-rounded analysis of the fall incident and empowers the team to develop comprehensive falls prevention strategies that include emergency falls response.

Accidents Happen: Learning From Falls Past

While your facility seeks to eliminate the number of falls yearly, each fall comes with valuable information. A root cause analysis of every fall can help shape future falls prevention strategies. Facility staff should consider interviews of all witnesses to the fall, family, and staff members involved.

Questions should include activities, range of motion, vital signs, resident gait, etc. Discuss the reasons for the falls — outdated equipment, not enough staff present, or not enough safety tools in place. Use this information to consider how to do patient risk analysis for all present and future patients.

Prepare Your Facility With Joerns Healthcare

With the right equipment, updating your falls prevention strategies can be a success. Joerns Healthcare offers the tools for care teams to continue assessing patients and maintaining technology and asset inventory. Keep your facility in good shape to help patients regain independence and quality of life.

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