Beams, mats and socks prevent falls in hospital

27 Nov 2014 | Reducing Harm from Falls

Modern technology is keeping Te Awamutu resident Audrey Evans safe from falling during her stay in Waikato Hospital.

Like every patient, the 81-year-old had an assessment when she came into charge nurse manager Hayley Colmore-Willliams’ ward in the Older Persons and Rehabilitation Building.

Using the HenrichII fall risk model, Mrs Evans was assessed as a high risk of falling.

So out comes the fall prevention toolbox and all the tools to keep her safe from falling put in place. Among the tools is an INSvisi beam which sets off an alarm when a patient gets out of bed. Staff can see what room the beam has gone off in.

Other tools in the box include:

  • signage in the patient room to remind patients, family and staff of high fall risks
  • orange non-slip socks that prevent the patient falling and as also an alert to anyone on the ward that this patient is at high risk of falling if the patient is mobilising and that they should not be mobilising independently Non-slip socks are one of the original tools introduced back in 2010, after clinical product trials.
  • ultra low bed – to reduce fall height, and impact
  • impact or crash mats beside ultra low bed
  • long reach call bell – in reach for the patient
  • patient and family education
  • a ‘transfer belt’ to assist with mobility
  • And sensor mats on the bed, seating and/or floor if not using the INSvisi beam.

Surrounded by these tools, Mrs Evans really feels like she is being looked after.

“It’s marvelous what they have these days.

“The staff have been wonderful to me and I feel safe.”

Falls with or without injury carry a heavy quality of life impact in addition to the pain and suffering and the high cost of rehabilitation. There is also the added fear of falling again, which often limits people to engage in social activities. This can lead on to further physical decline, depression, social isolation and feelings of helplessness.

Waikato DHB will continue with the ongoing purchase and implementation of ‘tools’ as they are part of the plan that has helped reduce falls by 41 percent in the past four years.

Fall prevention is one of the DHB’s main Patient Safety priorities and the approach being it’s everyone’s responsibility in the organisation to know about falls prevention. That extends to the patient and their family. The DHB actively engages with service users and families to raise awareness of the importance of fall prevention in the home an everyday life. The three Ps of fall prevention Predict, Protect and Prevent

Read all about it in Waikato DHBs annual quality report released today (26 November) looking back on the previous year’s progress and looking forward, setting new areas of work.

Last updated 27/11/2014