Timed Up and Go (TUG) scores are often the go-to for fall risk assessment within senior care communities. It is easy to see why Timed Up and Go is the first line of fall prevention, as it gives information about a wide range of abilities and does so in a short amount of time. However, TUG scores aren’t always the most reliable, and if the test is not given more than once per month or quarter, the scores simply aren’t realistic. However, communities can keep residents safer by adding technology into the mix, letting automated Timed Up and Go assessments lead the way.
Drawbacks of Timed Up and Go
Timed Up and Go, when performed by clinicians, typically only happens upon assessment (or upon significant change) and then monthly or quarterly thereafter. While quarterly TUG scores certainly do assist staff when reviewing care plan goals and interventions, measuring a resident’s TUG score every three months is simply not giving a good glimpse into the resident’s fall risk. Residents may feel stronger in the morning, or their balance may falter after taking a particular medication. Without taking these situations into account, monthly or quarterly TUG scores are not giving staff members information that can be used to develop helpful interventions that could keep the resident off the floor and out of the hospital.
Beyond the timing of clinician performed Timed Up and Go assessments, there are also some issues with the environment where the test is given. Typically, the TUG is performed in a therapy room or in a community hallway. However, residents are walking, and transferring, in many different areas of the community, including their apartments, the dining room, and even at a local restaurant. Residents are not given the chance to perform the TUG on multiple flooring surfaces, or throughout the course of their daily routines. The lack of real-life situations can give the TUG score an incorrect skew.
How automation can help
Even with some of its drawbacks, Timed Up and Go still has multiple benefits when performed often and throughout the community. It certainly is not realistic to have a caregiver or clinician paired with residents throughout the day to check how a TUG score differs from the morning to late at night, or from carpeting to tile. This is exactly where artificial technology can come into play.
Timed Up and Go scores are able to be taken throughout the day, in the resident apartments, with cameras and other technology. These remote monitoring programs are able to measure how residents do within their apartments, completing day to day tasks like personal grooming or toileting. These multiple TUG scores are then passed on to staff members, giving clinicians real-time information about how residents are doing morning, noon, and night. This information can be used by clinicians to develop better care plan interventions, to give the fall risk team accurate information, to allow for more early intervention physical therapy referrals, and even to assist staff members in noticing the early signs of illness. Residents benefit and have better health, strength, and endurance to keep them aging in place longer.
How do you keep TUG scores realistic? What benefits have you noticed from automating your TUG process?