Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


National nurse-led project will prevent long-term care residents from falling


TORONTO, May 5, 2008 – Preventing injuries is a top priority for the health-care professionals who care for seniors. The tragic death of an 87-year-old resident at a nursing home in Ontario highlights the urgency of improving the safety of seniors living in long-term care.

Half of the seniors living in long-term care facilities fall and injure themselves every year; but research shows that the majority of falls can be prevented. That’s why the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), together with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, is leading a national project that aims to reduce the number of falls and fall-related injuries in long-term care facilities. Teams taking part in the project will be discussing evidence-based change strategies that are based on the guideline ‘Prevention of Falls and Fall Injuries in the Older Adult,’ developed by RNAO.

Safer Healthcare Now! (SHN), an initiative of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, in partnership with RNAO, has launched the National Collaborative on Falls in Long-Term Care, an initiative involving teams of health professionals from across the country who are committed to preventing their residents from falling. These teams – made up of nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, pharmacists and personal support workers – will be meeting with quality improvement and falls prevention experts in Montreal on May 5 and 6 to discuss ways they can implement the best strategies for keeping their residents safe.

Nurses know that falling is a critical issue in long-term care. “We experience first-hand the effect that a fall can have on an older person,” explains RN Irmajean Bajnok, Director of International Affairs and Best Practice Guidelines Programs at RNAO. Bajnok adds that falls cause emotional and physical harm. “People can be seriously injured and even end up with a disability. So, preventing falls is absolutely critical.”

Bajnok stresses that the goal of this new partnership’s interventions is to prevent falls while encouraging independence among older persons. “We’re not talking about restricting movement or using restraints of any sort. We’re calling for the assessment and identification of those at risk for falls and setting up as many preventative strategies as possible. That way, older persons have the dignity and freedom to move about, but also the safety net and support they need,” she explains.

The Collaborative will be focusing on strategies such as: assessing a resident’s risk for falling when they first enter a long-term care facility; teaching staff, residents and families how to prevent falls; having residents do balance and strength training; lowering the height of beds; and using bed exit alarms when patients are at a high risk of falling.

“SHN is committed to making health care safer for people across this country,” says Phil Hassen, Chair of SHN’s National Steering Committee and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. “We’re proud to partner with the RNAO in the implementation of their best practice guideline to prevent falls and fall-related injuries for residents in long-term care. This partnership will ensure a comprehensive approach to addressing this safety issue on a national level.”

“This initiative provides a fabulous opportunity to support the implementation of RNAO’s guideline across the country. It’s a real pleasure to be partnering with Safer Healthcare Now! and to have our guideline leading safer patient care across Canada,” says Bajnok.

The May 5 and 6 meeting is the first of three learning sessions that participants will attend over the next year. Following each session, they will implement falls prevention strategies in their workplaces.

WHO: -150 health professionals who work in long-term care homes across Canada
-Collaborative Co-Director: Heather McConnell, RN, BScN, MA (ED) Associate Director, International Affairs and Best Practice Guidelines Programs Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario
WHAT: National Collaborative on Falls in Long-Term Care, Learning Session #1
WHERE: Delta Centreville Hotel, 777 University Avenue, Montreal
WHEN: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday, May 5 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 6

RNAO’s Best Practice Guidelines Program, funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, was launched in 1999 to provide the best available evidence for patient care across a wide spectrum of health-care areas. The 36 guidelines developed to date are a substantive contribution towards building excellence in Ontario’s health-care system. They are available to nurses and other health care professionals across Canada and abroad. To learn more about RNAO’s Nursing Best Guidelines Program or to view these resources please visit

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

The Safer Healthcare Now! campaign is the largest health-care quality improvement/safety initiative underway in Canada to reduce the number of deaths and injuries related to preventable adverse events. Currently, close to 900 teams, representing more than 220 hospitals, health regions and other health care delivery organizations are enrolled in SHN campaign. The Quebec campaign, launched in April 2006, works in collaboration with the SHN campaign. To date, 51 teams from 32 organizations are part of the “Together, Let’s Improve Healthcare Safety” campaign in Quebec.

For more information on the SHN campaign, visit the website or


For more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext.209
Cell: 647-406-5605