How to Prevent Falls in Nursing Homes

Nursing homes with 100 beds report anywhere from 100 to 200 falls each year. Even more falls remain unreported. These falls pose a significant threat to the health and well being of nursing home residents. In fact, nearly 1,800 residents die from fall-related injuries each year. With such a real risk for severe injuries and wrongful death, nursing homes must take systematic steps to prevent falls.

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What a Nursing Home Should Do to Prevent Frequent Falls

Several studies have now confirmed that most falls in nursing homes do not occur due to any single risk factor, but instead result from a combination of risk factors. For this reason, a nursing home should take a multi-step approach to prevent falls. This approach can include:

  • Creating a care plan for fall prevention: This care plan must look at all potential factors that create the risk of falls for each individual patient. The plan must then guide the type and amount of care that each resident receives on a daily basis.
  • Regularly reviewing fall prevention measures: The staff should review each resident’s care plan and fall prevention measures on a quarterly basis, or when the resident experiences a fall or a change in medical condition. These reviews help to minimize future fall risks and to keep the staff educated on the expected level of care for each resident.
  • Providing extra care for residents with dementia: Nursing home patients with cognitive issues such as dementia require ongoing supervision, as these patients do not have the mental capabilities to care for themselves properly.
  • Evaluating each resident’s medication: Several medications have side effects that throw off a person’s balance. Staff should note these side effects in the patient’s care plan and should increase supervision during time times when those side effects are most potent.

At the most basic level, nursing home staff should take time to get to know who your loved one is, what matters to him or her, and what his or her risk factors are for injury. This knowledge can mean the difference between proper care and serious injury.

A Special Consideration for Nursing Home Staff

Some nursing homes across the country have started to create fall committees made up of a team of individuals, including doctors, nurses and nurse’s aides. This team becomes the expert controller of preventing and responding to falls in the home. For instance, the team can assess environmental risk factors and lead the effort to improve those hazards. Such a team may greatly benefit some nursing homes in Illinois that experience a larger number of falls, and can quickly become an invaluable fall prevention tool.

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