There are many precautionary measures that can be taken by nursing home staff to protect residents from accidental falls. Each individual resident should undergo a personalized determination of what precautionary measures would best keep him or her safe. The following list is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather provides some ideas as to what precautionary measures are available for nursing home residents.
- Individualized risk assessment – An individual fall risk assessment should be conducted, and reviewed periodically, for each resident. Certain factors can lead to a higher risk of falling, such as the resident’s age, heart health, neurological issues, orthopedic problems, hearing or vision loss, illness, a history of falls, and certain medications. Knowing a resident’s specific history will lead to the development of the best possible strategy for preventing falls.
- Guardrails on beds – Guardrails are simple, and highly useful, instruments that can prevent residents from falling out of their beds. Residents can use bed rails as handholds when getting out of or into the bed. Residents can also use the rails to hold bed controls, call buttons, and personal care items for easy access while the resident is in the bed.
- Height-adjustable beds – Height-adjustable beds can be raised and lowered as needed. Such beds are often controlled by electronics, so they are easy to use. The bed can be lowered closer to the ground to better facilitate the resident getting out of or into the bed, and yet can be adjusted up higher so that nursing staff can easily perform their duties and provide care.
- Exercise programs – Exercise promotes health, strength, and social interaction. In addition to the obvious strength development benefits, various exercises can help improve and promote a good sense of balance. Low-impact exercises and aerobic-type exercises are beneficial for older people.
- Individualized toileting schedules for residents – Many falls are the result of a resident trying to take him or herself to the bathroom in his or her room. Usually, the resident has called for help, and yet that call went unanswered. Developing a regular and individualized toileting schedule for each resident and providing the assistance each resident needs for trips to the bathroom is critical for fall prevention.
- Providing a safe environment – The elderly are less adept at quickly reacting, and all avoidable environmental hazards should be removed from the resident’s living area. Certain environmental conditions are hazardous to anyone, not just the elderly, such as untreated winter sidewalks, wet floors, and poorly lit areas. However, elderly people experience other environmental hazards such as bed heights that are too high, or improperly maintained assistive devices such as wheelchairs, canes, walkers, or shower gurneys. Such devices should be checked and adjusted by nursing staff to accommodate each resident’s needs.
When taking steps to prevent accidental falls, safety is key. If you have a loved one residing in a nursing home who has been the victim of a fall caused by negligence, contact The Rooth Law Firm at (800) 350-0646 to find out more about holding the nursing home accountable for its negligence.