Falls are considerably frequent causes of injuries and hospitalization among older adults. Inappropriately equipped hospital rooms and halls often result in fall injuries of the patients. The falls might have extremely unfortunate outcomes for a patient and may lead to legal procedures for a health care institution. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop preventive system measures.
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The Purpose of the Program
The purpose of the Elderly Fall Prevention Program is to implement a series of procedures to ensure the safety of elderly patients in the hospital. It focuses on the most common fall factors and the ways to avoid them. The continuous execution of the instructions and advice described in the program will result in more comfortable conditions for the patients and decrease the rate of falls and fall injuries.
The Target Audience
In comparison to people of other ages, the elderly are the most predisposed to experience falls. The probability of falling increases with aging. Older persons are more likely to encounter difficulties with walking, imbalance, caused by medications, limited mobility, vision impairment, and other factors making them especially vulnerable. “Falls are the most common cause of injury, hospital admissions and nursing home admission in the elderly”( Pfortmueller, Lindner, & Exadaktylos, 2014, p. 276). The falls may not seriously affect the younger individuals, yet for people over sixty, they may lead to serious traumas, dislocations, hospitalization, and even fatal outcomes.
The Elderly Fall Prevention Program
Screening the seniors during the admission is a normal practice in all hospitals. The patient is to be evaluated regarding his or her fall history, mobility issues, chronic physical and mental conditions. The nurse should analyze the drugs prescribed to a patient and their potential influence on the risk of falling.
It is crucial for hospital rooms, bathrooms, and halls to be properly equipped for patients with limited mobility. The nurse is responsible for introducing a patient to all the facilities and explaining the functionality of room equipment. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Rockville, MD, (2013), to reduce the possibility of falling in the room, certain precautions should be taken (para. 10). One of the common challenges for older people is high beds (Tzeng, Yin, Anderson, & Prakash, 2012). The beds should be adjusted to meet the needs of each older adult. The mats and bedsheets should be made out of non-slip fabric. A bedside table must be located close to the bed so the patient could easily reach his or her personal belongings. The hospital clothing should be adequately designed and do not hinder the movements. Special attention should be paid to the footwear.
The hospital management must make sure that the material of the floor is suitable for the safe walking of the elderly people. Cleaning staff must pay attention at detergents they use and check that the floor surface is not slippery. Side rails must be provided in the reception area, halls, rooms, and bathrooms. To prevent falls in the night time, the rooms must be equipped with lamps at a bedside and glowing signs to the bathroom and the exit. Before leaving the room, the nurse must make sure that the alarm buttons are within reach of a patient.
The healthcare facilities must be furnished with an appropriate number of wheelchairs, walking frames, sticks, and other walking devices. The nurses have to instruct the patients about using the walking aids safely.
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It is important to engage vulnerable older patients in physical exercises and provide healthy nutrition rich in vitamins C and B (Pfortmueller et al., 2014). The patients with the highest risk of fall must be assisted with feeding and bathroom needs on a regular basis. Individuals that experienced falls in the hospital must be re-examined. The reasons and conditions of the fall should be analyzed. The hospital staff should participate in training regarding the fall risk factors and risk assessments. The proper awareness-raising material is to be developed.
The effectiveness of the program is to be evaluated through the reports and statistics regarding the fall rate in the premises. Nursing leaders and managers should organize regular team meetings to reflect on the results and share opinions on possible improvements.
Benefits of the Program
With the aging population, the older people often constitute a majority of the patients. Accidents related to falls are a common reason for hospitalization. Elderly individuals who experienced a fall in the healthcare institution are at risk of getting severe injuries and extend their treatment plans in the hospital. The longer treatment not only has a significant adverse effect on a life quality of a person but also requires more financial expenses from a patient and a hospital. Apart from that, falls that were caused by inadequately equipped premises may result in legal proceedings between the hospital and a family of an elderly person. Such procedures are harmful to both the budget and the image of the hospital. Therefore, the expenses for the development of the program are justified. Implementing the Elderly Fall Prevention Program will improve the comfort and safety of the residents and reduce the risk of falls among older patients due to the fault of a healthcare facility.
The Elderly Fall Prevention Program is beneficial for both the patients and the healthcare facilities. The procedures described in the program will help to reduce the risk of falls by providing safe surroundings for the elderly patients. Preventing the fall related accidents is a major concern in achieving quality patient care system.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2013). Preventing Falls in Hospitals. Web.
Pfortmueller, C. A., Lindner, G., & Exadaktylos, A. K. (2014) Reducing fall risk in the elderly: risk factors and fall prevention, a systematic review. MINERVA MEDICA, 105(4), 275-281.
Tzeng, H.M., Yin, C.Y., Anderson, A., & Prakash, A. (2012) Nursing staff’s awareness of keeping beds in the lowest position to prevent falls and fall injuries in an adult acute surgical inpatient care setting. Medsurg Nursing, 21(5), 271–274.