In looking at the many and diverse elements that make up “quality of care” in senior housing, a single common theme emerges. Whatever other elements of care one may wish to explore, falls will likely emerge as a chief contributing factor.
It takes more than good intentions and a solid plan to manage the potential for falls among residents. “For an effective falls-reduction program, healthcare providers must use appropriate assessment tools consistently,” the American Nurses Association reports.
Automated fall risk assessments in particular are proving a valuable tool for care directors looking to remain proactive in fall management. Some sensor systems, for example, can passively monitor a resident and continuously calculate and update a TUG (Timed Up & Go) score, one of the industry standards for fall risk assessment. As soon as the system recognizes a changed or elevated risk score, it can alert caregivers to intervene and take proactive, preventative measures to avoid future falls.
While this technology may sound futuristic, it’s here today. Instead of “when will this be available,” the question becomes “what does automated fall risk assessment technology mean for senior living residents and businesses?”
Automated assessments encourage prevention
Automated fall risk monitoring and assessments make it far easier for resident care providers to deliver true preventive care for seniors. Rather than merely responding to events after-the-fact, automated systems enable caregivers to be alerted to a resident’s elevated fall risk without having to physically observe, test, or be told about symptoms. Instead, automated systems can passively monitor a resident’s fall risk status and alert care providers when to intervene or take preventative measures based on alerts and feedback generated by automated systems.
Care delivered after-the-fact has never matched the value of proactive interventions, and senior living providers have historically struggled to provide the staffing levels necessary to be in a position to deliver more effective fall prevention. In terms of quality of care, the functionality enabled by automated systems provides a significant distinction from that of many of the historically common, “reactive” fall alert technologies.
Improved staff utilization
Looking across the entirety of a senior housing operation, automated fall risk assessments can do more than just improve care for the individual: they can also improve business health by optimizing staff utilization. By continuously and automatically identifying those residents at elevated and high risk for falls, automated fall risk assessment systems can streamline the care process by allowing care directors to better manage overall staff levels and effectively allocate resources to focus on those residents at highest risk, thereby easing the staff workload, reducing fall rates, and improving overall quality of care.
Improved emergency response and recovery times
Quality of care rests not just on the day-to-day aspects of oversight and support: it also includes the ability to quickly and effectively respond to an incident and provide appropriate care based its causes and in response to its outcomes. Fall alerts provided by automated fall risk assessment solutions allow senior care providers to receive immediate notification of when a fall occurs in a residence, thus speeding response and equipping those responding with visual evidence of the fall for enhanced diagnosis and treatment.
Quality of care is the ultimate benchmark for any clinical care director in senior living, and the prevalence of falls as a risk factor among seniors puts the issue high on the list of concerns. In order to make the claim of excellence, care directors must show steady wins in their efforts to prevent and remediate resident falls.
Automated fall prevention and alert solutions are a powerful tool in aiding that effort. While hands-on attention will always be at the center of care quality, technology’s ability to enhance that care cannot be overlooked.