Falls / Broken Bones
About 1,800 individuals living in nursing home facilities die as a result of falls in any given year. Those who survive their falls are frequently forced to live with hip fractures and head injuries which can result in permanent disability and reduced quality of life. The average nursing home with 100 residents will report anywhere from 100 to 200 falls annually. Of those falls, 10-20% will result in serious injury.
Why do Nursing Home falls happen?
There are several factors that contribute to the number of falls that occur within a nursing home. Most nursing home patients are either elderly, injured or both. With increasing age, muscle weakness becomes more and more apparent, which can result in a fall. Injuries that affect the walking or gait of a resident can also be contributing factors to falls. Regarding injuries, ensuing medications and dosages could also play a role in whether a fall does or doesn’t occur.
Hubris, excessive self-confidence, can also result in falls if a resident is attempting to move from one place to another under their own power when they should only be doing so under close supervision, or assistance of the nursing facility staff.
Improper elder foot care, or using shoes that do not properly fit can directly result in a resident falling and potentially injuring themselves.
Some more avoidable causes of falls would be the environment of the nursing home facility, including poor lighting, wet floors, improper bed height, or inadequate wheelchair size.
How Can Falls be Prevented in Nursing Homes?
Preventing falls [in-part] in nursing home occurs on a management level of the facility. One method of preventing falls is educating both residents and staff on how to avoid hazardous situations in the nursing facility. Increasing exercise for residents would directly address one of the main contributing factors of falls – muscle weakness. Staff should be reviewing resident’s records when being given medications to determine if they are fall risks. Continual education of staff members about falls, risk factors, and prevention efforts would dramatically decrease the rate of falls, and improve the overall health of the residents of the facility.
Facility upgrades can drastically reduce the likelihood of residents falling and injuring themselves. Such upgrades could include raised toilet seats, handrails, grab bars and decreased bed heights.
Following procedure post-fall will expose the cause and potential area of improvement at a facility. The problem occurs when the same issue is repeatedly present and not addressed. This is putting both the residents and the facility in jeopardy.
When to seek help
As you can see above, while some falls are unavoidable, a fair number are not. If you or a loved one notice continual injuries, bruising, unexplained or undocumented falls, you should contact a legal professional and voice your concerns.