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Blog: Thinking outside the box for falls prevention

Reducing harm Falls (Reducing harm)
21 June 2018

An image of two clinicians standing in front of a wall display with various posters about falls. The title of the wall display is 'April Falls'.

With April Falls behind us for another year, it’s a great time to look at some of the fantastic activities that took place.

As a nurse educator in the Orthopaedic Trauma Service at Christchurch Hospital and a member of our falls committee, I like to do something special for the April Falls campaign.

I think it’s important to think outside the box and be creative to help get across the falls prevention message.

I also like to use humour to educate, where appropriate. For a few years, the ‘roving grannies’ – my colleague Helen Mathieson and I – toured our region’s hospitals and aged residential care facilities during the April Falls campaign as our alter egos, Betty Tripp and Mavis Brown.

We found it was easier to initiate conversations about reducing falls risks and staying active to maintain balance and fitness when we were dressed in a hospital gown, non-slip socks, hair curlers and using a walking frame.

But, you’ve got to keep changing things up to keep people interested – you only have a few minutes to get your message across – so this year I opted for a competition to guess how many autumn leaves were in a box.

The competition was widely promoted, with yellow and orange balloons on sticks for children – that helped get the attention of their parents and grandparents – posters, a decorated trolley, a big noticeboard, real autumn leaves all over the place and being part of a Grand Round presentation.

Once we engaged staff, patients and their families, we made good use of all the April Falls ‘Live Stronger For Longer’ resources.[1]

Patients and their family/whānau can sometimes find the hospital environment challenging and stressful. It’s great to see people really light up when they see something different.

Some people asked where Betty and Mavis were, and I explained that they were ‘overseas’ at the moment. I’m sure the roving grannies will be back in the future – perhaps with a man friend in tow?

It’s important to remember that anyone can have a fall – not just older people. In my work, I often come across people who don’t want to use a walking stick because it makes them feel ‘old’. But, if you need a walking stick and don’t use one, you’re at risk of a fall. There are some beautiful walking sticks available, so I think we should think of them more as accessories.

Our wonderful hospital volunteers provided gift baskets for prizes for the April Falls competition. For the record, we had over 200 entries and there were 294 leaves in the box. The closest guess was 299 and six other guesses came second with 300.

All in all, another successful April Falls campaign.

[1]Visit the Live Stronger for Longer website at . To order any of the free Live Stronger for Longer resources, visit the ACC website at .

Author: Lisa Bee, Nurse Educator, Orthopaedic Trauma Service, Canterbury District Health Board