What Hospital Staff Should Do to Prevent Falls in Geriatric Psych Units

There are several steps a hospital can and should take to prevent patients from falling while staying in geriatric psych units. These many steps can be broken down into three simple categories: assessment, implementation and review. By taking these simple steps, hospitals will have done what they can to protect their patients from fall-related injuries.

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Step One: Assess Each Patient’s Risk for Falls

Your loved one should receive a full fall risk assessment upon admission to the geriatric-psych unit. This assessment should take into account his or her existing medical conditions, medications and any other factors that may contribute to the overall risk for falling. When possible, the hospital should employ several different health care providers, including psychiatrists, general practitioners, social workers and nurses, to create a comprehensive assessment.

Step Two: Implement Individualized Care Plans

Your loved one’s geriatric-psych care providers should then take all the information learned during the assessment and place it into an individualized plan of care. This plan would include an overall health summary, all factors that increase your loved one’s fall risk and the specific precautions the staff will follow to prevent falls from happening. Common fall precautions include:

  • Keeping a call light within reach at all times
  • Having sturdy handrails in all rooms and hallways
  • Keeping hospital bed brakes and wheelchairs locked
  • Providing nonslip, comfortable, well-fitting footwear
  • Using night lights or supplemental lighting
  • Keeping floor clean and dry

From there, the staff should make sure it follows all steps in a timely and proper manner to best protect your loved one.

Step Three: Repeat as Necessary

All care plans require updates. The staff should be sure to adjust the plan and any prevention techniques after a change in circumstances relating to mobility, mental health changes or medication. Additionally, the staff should repeat the assessment on a routine basis to ensure it is current and useful.

What You Should Do to Protect Your Loved One

The best thing you can do for your loved one is to pay attention. Ask the staff questions, request updates on the care plan, ask your loved one for updates if possible, and be present.

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