How Should Nursing Homes Prevent Falls?

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As many as 25% of elderly people fall each year — and 20% of falls cause serious injury. For the millions of people living in nursing homes, the risk of falling is serious.

Nursing home fall intervention is important to the well-being of everyone who lives in a nursing home. Residential care homes have a duty of care to prevent falls.

Here are some strategies and interventions that a nursing home should use to prevent falls.

How to Prevent Falls in Nursing Homes

Here are 10 steps and strategies for fall prevention in assisted living:

1. Address bed safety

In any nursing home, bed safety is especially important. The bed should be set at a height that the resident can enter and exit the bed comfortably. The position of the bed should be set according to the needs of the resident. Soiled bed sheets should be replaced, and bed bugs must be avoided. These hazards may cause a patient to be uncomfortable in bed, try to adjust or exit the bed, and then fall.

There must be policies regarding the use of bed rails because they are a physical restraint. When bed rails are used, the resident must be monitored, and protocols must be followed.

2. Look at the entire room, seats, and furniture

The resident’s room and their entire living area should be addressed for fall risk. There should be places to sit, and seats must be appropriate for the resident. Generally, a chair should be provided for each resident in a room. If a chair for each resident would impede free movement, at least one chair should be provided with additional chairs available for temporary use.

A common danger is clutter – there should be sufficient storage for wheelchairs, walkers, and resident property. The facility must balance the need to have enough seating areas with the need for space to move freely throughout the facility.

3. Keep floors clear

Poor flooring can create a fall risk. A floor with a hard surface may be too slippery. A carpeted floor may have rips, or there are pieces that may become loose. Lighting may be inadequate. There may be too many objects in the path, or debris may be in the walkway. All these dangers may increase the risk of a fall.

4. Provide railings and other supports

Handrails are an important part of nursing home fall prevention. A facility should provide handrails in each corridor, at least on one side. Porches, decks, and walkways should have guardrails. Railings should comply with building codes and be placed to minimize fall risk in the home.

5. Walk the facility periodically

Nursing home fall prevention is proactive. Care providers shouldn’t wait until dangers are brought to their attention. They should be present in their facility, periodically looking for things that need to be repaired or changed.

6. Accept input from residents

The people who live in the care facility are the ones who know it the best. Residents should know how to provide feedback. They should be welcome to share concerns about potential fall hazards. These recommendations should be reviewed for appropriate interventions.

7. Provide adequate personal care

A resident may need help to use the bathroom. They may need help to stand up or change positions in bed. This care must be provided when it is needed. Residents must know how to summon help, and adequate staffing must be provided.

8. Assess individual fall risk

Fall risk may vary among residents. One person in a nursing home may function without intervention, while another may need significant assistance. A nursing home should address a person’s risk of falling when they enter the facility and again periodically. Their stability and mobility should be evaluated.

Plus, it’s common for residents to take medication. The medication may cause unsteadiness or drowsiness. Mobility supports, physical therapy, and personal care attendants may all be part of a plan to minimize risk.

9. Care for the well-being of each resident

Mitigating fall risk means more than just addressing environmental factors. Caring for the person’s entire well-being can be a part of preventing falls in a nursing home.

For example, inadequate nutrition can make a person more likely to fall. Improper footwear or vision problems may also be contributing factors. Poor sleep quality may be a factor. Making sure that the individual receives the daily care that they need can help minimize risk of a fall.

10. Investigate falls and make changes

When falls occur, the nursing home should fully investigate what occurred. A proper investigation and responsive measures should be taken to prevent something similar from happening again. Too often, nursing homes are not forthcoming about what really happened. An honest investigation can reveal what needs to change in the future for the safety of residents.

Investigating How a Fall Occurred in a Nursing Home

If a fall occurs, an investigation can uncover where the nursing home lapsed. An investigation should include looking at the location where the fall occurred and what objects were present. The victim’s personal history should be considered. Witnesses, including employees, volunteers, and other residents, may be interviewed. An investigation can reveal causes and contributing factors that may be important in preventing additional harm.

Do nursing homes have a duty to prevent falls?

Yes! Nursing homes exist to allow vulnerable adults to live in a safe environment. A nursing home must take reasonable steps for the well-being of its residents. That includes taking reasonable steps to prevent falls. What is reasonable depends on the specific situation.

Contact a Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer About a Fall

If you have been a victim of a nursing home fall, contact lawyer Robert “Bobby” Jones of Bobby Jones Law in Greenville, SC. We represent people who have been hurt in preventable falls.

You may not know why the fall occurred or the underlying factors. You may only know that you or a loved one has been hurt. A lawyer can help.

Call or message us now to talk about your situation.

The team at Bobby Jones Law LLC works tirelessly for the injured in South Carolina. His achievements include:
  • More than $60 million collected for our clients
  • Multiple recoveries exceeding $1 million, including an eight-figure settlement
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America
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  • Selected as Legal Elite of the Upstate 2021–2023
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We’re humbled to be considered one of the top firms in the Upstate and invite you to learn what sets our award-winning legal services apart. Call or request a consultation online.
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