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National Fall Prevention Month: We all have a role to play

Posted Nov 22nd, 2023

Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults in Canada.

It’s this truth, and knowing that 20 to 30 per cent of older adults will experience at least one fall each year that drives the important work of Clinical Manager Darlene Venditti and the Niagara Health Falls Prevention Program.

“Fall prevention plays a huge role in ensuring the well-being of our patients,” says Venditti. “When a patient comes into the hospital, they may exhibit a range of characteristics that can increase their risk of falling.”

Niagara Health’s Falls Prevention Program ensures that patients are properly assessed for risk of falling, either in hospital or when they return home.

“Poor mobility, balance, disorientation and medications affecting alertness are just a few examples of risk factors that can contribute to falls,” says Venditti. “Our interprofessional team addresses these factors and develops strategies to reduce the likelihood of falls."

Keeping you safe while in hospital

Anyone in hospital could be at risk for falling. For this reason, Venditti says, universal fall precautions are crucial to maintaining patient safety.

“Universal precautions are specific actions we take to keep all patients safe,” she says. “This includes keeping floors dry, reducing environmental clutter, providing adequate lighting and ensuring patients’ belongings are kept close by.”

For patients who may be at higher risk, interprofessional teams work together to create collaborative care plans, ensuring that interventions are put in place to help keep patients safe.

“We work closely with care teams to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to fall prevention,” says Venditti. “This includes regular communication between teams and family members to ensure that everyone is aware of risk factors that could lead to falls.”

Involving patients and their families is the key to successfully preventing falls, Venditti says.

“We encourage patients to take an active role in their own safety and provide education about how they can be involved in fall prevention.”

Tips for preventing fall

We all have a role to play in preventing falls. Here are the Top 10 tips that patients and their care team can use to prevent falling in hospital:

  1. Move slowly when getting up. If feeling dizzy while standing, sit down and call for help.
  2. Use assistive devices such as handrails or walkers as needed.
  3. Make sure call bells are within reach and use them when assistance is needed.
  4. Wear well-fitting, supportive shoes with rubber soles or non-slip socks.
  5. Keep pathways clear and clutter-free. Ask for help to clean up spills or pick up items.
  6. Keep personal items within reach to avoid bending or reaching.
  7. Lock wheelchairs or walker brakes before standing up or sitting down.
  8. Use the grab bar, if available.
  9. Wear hearing aids or glasses, if required.
  10. If you have a history of falls, let your care team know so they can take extra precautions

Balancing fall prevention and patient independence

Promoting patient mobility and independence is a crucial component of fall prevention.

“By encouraging patients to stay active, we can help them maintain their strength and balance, reducing the likelihood of falls,” Venditti says. “We also work with patients to address any barriers to mobility such as pain, fatigue or fear of falling.”

Education plays a large role in supporting patients’ mobility goals.

“Having conversations about reducing the risk of injury from falls and incorporating movement into the patients’ day is extremely important,” Venditti says. “By identifying risk factors, implementing necessary changes and educating patients and their family members, we can create an environment that promotes and reduces the risk of falls.”

November is National Fall Prevention Month. Niagara Health is committed to working with patients and families to prevent falls in hospital and achieving goals of safety and independence. Learn more about fall prevention at Niagara Health.

Niagara Health System