Preventing fall injuries among older people


27 March 2012
Older people are over-represented in falls statistics – that’s why the involvement of age-related residential care is so important in the First, Do No Harm campaign.

Many facilities are moving to prevent falls by changing their built environment and internal culture but First, Do No Harm offers the opportunity to share what they have learnt across the sector and the region.

The not-for-profit Elizabeth Knox Home and Hospital at Epsom has driven a reduction in its fall rates over the last four years with a multi-faceted approach to the problem.

Monthly average falls have reduced from 24 with a population of 107 residents to as low as six per month with a bigger population of 140 residents today.

“We have seen real improvements through better-educating our staff, engaging with families about safety of the environment and de-cluttering,” said Elizabeth Knox CEO Jill Woodward.

“Our team members are more visible with residents and they know to speak-up quickly if they see something like a loose hand rail that has the potential to result in a fall.”

Changes to lighting and surfaces have also played a part in better safety for residents, along with structural changes to help them get in and out of the bathroom without injury. This also reduces injury risks for staff when lifting.

The introduction of activities such as weekly Tai Chi, seated dance and ‘move and groove’ sessions have benefited resident mobility and fostered a sense of independence.

“We don’t want to do things that prevent people moving. We still have people injured in falls. What we want to do is prevent the preventable and reduce injuries.

“The residents here take their mobility very seriously and their sense of companionship and caring for each other is another important element.”

Elizabeth Knox is keen to engage in the First, Do No Harm campaign and for others in the sector to come on board with common auditing and reporting systems to help develop a regionally-consistent approach to falls reduction.

“In our sector, people are hungry to make changes. They are so keen for this to get off the ground.”