The risk of falls and fall-related injuries increases with age. As well as injury, a fall may lead to avoidance of daily activities, social isolation and lowered quality of life.
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The risk of falls and fall-related injuries increases with age. As well as injury, a fall may lead to avoidance of daily activities, social isolation and lowered quality of life.

Fall prevention is an important focus in nursing homes. Most facilities provide staff education on fall prevention to increase awareness and promote a culture of safety..

Personal Risk Factors

Falls in nursing home settings and other residential care facilities can result in moderate and serious injuries such as bone fractures, dislocations, head injury, sprains and bruising. Even when the injury is not serious the consequences can be dire. The resident may lose confidence when walking and develop a ‘fear of falling’ which leads to a sedentary way of life and ensuing functional decline. Here are some personal risk factors to observe:

  • Leg weakness and numbness
  • Shuffling gait, off-balance
  • Medication (sedatives, anti-psychotic drugs)
  • Cognitive deficit
  • History of falling
  • Poor Vision
  • Illnesses (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and arthritis)

Environmental Hazards

Environment hazards are often involved in falls by older people. Stairs without handrails, poorly signed directions, overhanging bushes in the garden. Be vigilant of these and other potential hazards such as:

  • Clutter and other obstructions on the floor
  • Poor lighting
  • Loose rugs on the floor
  • Wet floors
  • Poorly maintained wheelchairs
  • Unstable furniture
  • Uneven floors

Falls Prevention in the Recreation area

As part of the interdisciplinary team, Leisure & Health coordinators and other Activities staff can play an important role in supervising, noticing and reporting ‘at risk’ residents in the recreation area.

Some measures to help prevent falls are:

  • Place ‘at risk’ residents at tables near you for easier observation during activities.
  • Supervise transfers from wheelchair to chair and vice-versa. Coach residents to use stable furniture for support.
  • Observe shoe wear; lace or fasten where necessary. Change shoes/slippers if deemed dangerous.
  • Watch out for non-compliance with use of walking sticks and walking frames.
  • Assist residents perceived to be confused or disoriented in the recreation area.
  • Endeavour to increase exercise participation.
  • Increase supervision of residents on new medication.
  • Escort visually impaired residents to-and-fro.
  • Support activities that aim at increasing visitors and relatives awareness.

Falls Prevention - Activities Conducive to Fitness

There are several activities that can help residents to gain fitness and reduce the risk of falling. Low impact aerobic activities are suitable. You may try activities like Wi Fi games, outdoor activities, exercises and movement to music, seated balance fitness sessions and more such as:

  • Group Tai Chi
  • Start a ‘Keep Active’ routine for ambulant residents. Take them on a 20 minute walk through the garden or around the block.
  • Ask your Physiotherapist for a tailored 30 minutes endurance exercises to suit the needs of the group you have in mind.
  • Games that require catching, shaking or throwing such as soft balls, musical instruments, bean bags, tennis balls, balloons, Frisbees, and carpet bowls.

Finally, if a resident falls in the recreation area follow your facility’s protocol. Make sure the person is as comfortable as possible before calling clinical staff. A small pillow under the head and someone holding his or her hand while waiting for help to arrive.

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Comments   Post a Comment

Owen 11th Jun 2019 Retired
Our staff at The Redwood Club in Wellington NZ insist that I use a walking frame when moving around as I am prone to falling, mostly because I have a balancing problem. Any ideas for help are always welcome and I read with interest the article above, most of which are common sense although carrying them through is sometimes hard.
I do appreciate help to stand up from a chair or walking up and down steps and playing some games at the club requires a friendly helper standing close by. But most people are mindful of when I need support and for this I am appreciative of their willingness to drop what they are doing to lend a hand. Thank you to the other residents and staff. Owen.
Debbie 26th Jun 2016
Assisting with falls prevention through exercise and fun and games supports our residents to remain active, independent and safe. I' ve been working with a falls risks resident for the last six weeks with great results in reducing her falls at certain times of the day. Providing more social and cognitive activities have reduced her boredom and increased interest in group activities. I'm hoping to show our activities team that exercise and fun activities do make a difference. Thanks golden carers for re inforcing my thoughts on this subject.
Talita 27th Jun 2016
Thanks so much for your feedback Debbie. It's wonderful to hear that you have been able to make a such a positive influence.
Darla 16th Feb 2015 Recreation Therapy Manager (former Activity Coordinator)
Great ideas, than you for sharting Jean.
jean 12th Feb 2015 activities officer
Every thursday morning we do what we call the happy healthy active program, we do a variety of sitting exercises,pluss standing including figure 8 walking around chairs,peging clothes on a line and taking them off , ball kiking, 1-1 wals practicing heal toe walking which is great for helping balance, genraly making it fun, since starting this program ourfalls numbers have dropped so its working. Jean.
Ngoc 11th Oct 2014 lifestyle student
Hi lovely ladies, thank you so much for those useful information which are related to my assignment now,
thank you Golden carers for offering me this opportunities to build up my confidence while i am working as a second language
Solange 15th Sep 2014 Diversional Therapist
Thank you for sharing Darla. Introducing fitness balance while entertaining is an imaginative idea. Active support allows residents to feel accomplished in line with people-centred philosophy.
Solange 15th Sep 2014 Diversional Therapist
Well done Maryann. It is comforting to know that your program inspired residents to help themselves.
Darla 10th Sep 2014 Recreation Therapy Manager (former Activity Coordinator)
Love this article, I plan to share the Article with our Recreation and Rehabilitation Team.
If I may share an idea our facility tried as part of balance or additional exercise to the physical game. Many of our Residents using a wheelchair stand and do short walks as part of their daily physio program. While playing lawn golf (plastic balls on string thrown toward 3 rungs on stationery plastic ring board), I offered choice to stand and throw the balls, with the physio belt around their waist for additional support from therapist to balance as they throw the golf balls.
This allows each Resident choice in how they would perform the task as well as sitting then standing, and balance on several tries (4 times around the small group). . All the Residents are offered a choice, those ambulatory and those needing to use wheelchair. This is all done with direct supervision and is a success.
MARYANN 10th Sep 2014 Diversional Therapist/Lifestyle Manager
I have introduced a Falls Prevention Ex's Program to our Facility.
It.s not for everyone but has been very positive for those taking part. We also purchased a Wii and play Bowls. Some Redients have taken it upon themselves now to also walk every morning, keeping fit and maintain independence as well.
Vikki 9th Sep 2014 Recreation/leisure&lifestyle. Also massage and aromatherapist..
What great article. Very informative, a common sense to approach to preventing falls in the activity area. I work activity/ Physio - aide so will definitely be putting this in practice.
Thank you.
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