7 Apr 2014 | Reducing Harm from Falls
Healthcare providers around New Zealand are raising awareness of the importance of falls prevention during the month-long April Falls promotion.
Falls are the leading cause of injuries to older people, yet many falls can be prevented by addressing underlying health conditions or problems with strength, balance or mobility.
April Falls celebrates the falls prevention activities underway and highlights the work that remains to be done.
Sandy Blake, Director of Nursing, and Clinical Lead for the Commission’s national programme to reduce harm from falls, says 90 percent of falls happen in the community.
“Not only is the harm from falls devastating for the person who has fallen, and distressing for their families and whanau, but it often means the person has to have extra medical tests and treatment. People who have had falls may end up staying longer in hospital, or needing to go into a rest home,” she says.
“What works best is if health workers discuss falls risks with an older person with a view to developing a plan of action if needed.
“Risk assessments and care plans should be developed with older people and their family/whanau, and must address all the risks identified for each individual.”
Regional networks of district health boards will promote activities linked to three key themes – risk assessment, care planning and safe care environments.
The Northern region – with the Northern region’s patient safety campaign, First, Do No Harm – is concentrating on the safe and effective use of bedrails, while the Midlands region looks at safe footwear.
The Central region is focusing on a system to signal the level of assistance needed with mobility, and the South Island is working on keeping environments safe and uncluttered to prevent falls.
Key messages and guidance on early screening, risk assessment and care planning is available through the Ask assess, act resource being promoted through April Falls 2014.
Further information on April Falls and on the Commission’s national patient safety campaign, Open for better care, can be found at http://www.open.hqsc.govt.nz
Falls – the facts and figures