More than one-third of people over the age of 65 fall each year. Older adults who fall once are two to three times more likely to fall again.
Falls in the post-acute care setting can often result in hospital readmissions. Broken wrists, arms and ankles are common, and hip fractures hospitalize at least 300,000 elderly patients annually. Head injuries can also cause serious problems, especially if these patients are taking certain medications (e.g., blood thinners).
Even if a resident or patient avoids injury, their fear of falling again may cause them to change their daily routine or avoid activities they once enjoyed. Less frequent activity can lead to greater physical weakness, which can increase the chance of falling.
Best Practices for Post-Acute Care Clinical Staff
Clinicians are the first line of defense against falls. To reduce readmission rates associated with falls, work together in an interdisciplinary team approach – one that includes both staff with direct care and administrative functions.
- Designate a “Fall Champion” who can identify and analyze potential or actual falls hazards
- Evaluate and monitor interventions for effectiveness and update a patient’s plan of care, as necessary
- Use a fall risk factors checklist as part of the initial screening and assessment process for older adults
- Train clinical staff on the risk factors for falls and effective prevention methods. Studies show a direct correlation between education and a reduction in falls.
- Educate older adults, as well as their families and caregivers, about what causes falls and how to prevent them
Products to Aid in Fall Prevention
Many products are available to help prevent falls, and in turn, reduce the likelihood of fall-related readmissions.