Preventing falls as a senior living home is critical, for both safety and well-being of residents, but it’s easier said than done.
The ultimate goal of any senior living home is to keep seniors healthy and happy. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), falls and fall-related injuries are major incidents for seniors and often mark the beginning of their health deteriorating. “More than one-third of home-dwelling people aged 65 or above and two-thirds of those in residential care fall once or more each year,” NIH says.
What is needed to sustain a fall prevention culture?
- Fall prevention is viewed as a time-limited initiative rather than an ongoing program;
- The changes needed for fall prevention have not been incorporated into routine behavior;
- More fall prevention champions are needed on staff;
- Staff need to take ownership of fall prevention;
- Mechanisms are needed to provide feedback to staff on the effectiveness of fall prevention strategies and to celebrate success.
“To sustain improvement, changes need to become so integrated into existing organizational structures and routines that they are no longer noticed as separate from business as usual,” AHRQ says.
The blog, “A Place for Mom,” reports on a seminar conducted by the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA). The seminar advises several evidence-based fall risk management techniques to help keep a successful fall prevention culture alive. These include keeping an especially observant and careful watch over the residents who have been proven statistically to be the most likely to fall, including:
- Residents who have fallen before
- Residents with cognitive impairment
- Residents with diabetes
- Female residents
- Residents who don’t exercise
The ALFA seminar also suggested starting an exercise program – which decreases the risk of falls by 30 percent and decreases injuries caused by falls by 37 percent.
Observing residents is the number one way to prevent falls, but all too often, staff is stretched in too many directions to be observant at all times. One good way to augment the staff’s efforts is to include health monitoring technology.
With this technology, discreet sensors and monitors give staff the benefit of artificial intelligence (AI), which provides them with real-time information about what is happening with residents as they go about their daily living in their apartments, if they live in an assisted living setting, or in their rooms, if in a nursing home setting. This data allows staff to get notice of unusual gait changes, increased heart rate, or even early signs of illness that can lead to falls. With AI, staff can stop a fall before it starts, and residents feel safe even when they are not in the presence of clinicians. Finally, if a fall does happen, staff members can watch it after the fact, determining what led to the spill in the first place and fixing it so that it doesn’t happen again.
No one wants to expose a senior to a fall, least of all the senior. Using the most modern advances in AI, along with a good fall-prevention culture, can greatly reduce the risk of falls, providing seniors with the optimum quality of life.