EDMONTON, May 26, 2009 - Seniors living in long-term care are less likely to fall thanks to a national project that increased the use of safety plans to protect residents who are at risk.
“Preventing falls and reducing serious injury from falls is absolutely critical,” says Irmajean Bajnok, Director of International Affairs and Best Practice Guidelines Programs at the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO). “People can be seriously injured and even end up with a disability. Staff in long-term care facilities who have a person-centred, evidence-based approach to reducing falls and fall injuries can increase quality of life for their residents and reduce costs associated with serious injury from falls.”
The National Collaborative on Falls in Long-Term Care is a joint project of RNAO and Safer Healthcare Now, a campaign of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI). Teams made up of nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, personal support workers, dietitians, and pharmacists used recommendations from an RNAO best practice guideline to develop falls prevention plans that were specific to their residents and organizations.
In addition to improving methods for assessing risk and reporting incidents, teams participating in the project implemented strategies such as: 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.
“I would like to commend the healthcare professionals involved in this project for making it possible for us to introduce and measure a comprehensive approach to preventing falls on a national level,” says Philip Hassen, Chair of Safer Healthcare Now’s Steering Committee and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. “Their commitment to keeping their residents safe and their innovative approaches to preventing falls have shown that through hard work and client-centred planning and care, the majority of falls can be prevented.”
“We didn’t advocate restricting movement or using restraints of any sort,” explains Bajnok. “Our focus was on assessing and identifying those at risk of falling 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.”
The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) is an independent not-for-profit corporation, operating collaboratively with health professionals and organizations, regulatory bodies and governments to build and advance a safer healthcare system for Canadians. CPSI performs a coordinating and leadership role across health sectors and systems, promotes leading practices and raises awareness with stakeholders, patients and the general public about patient safety.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) 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. RNAO’s ambitious Best Practice Guidelines Program, funded by the Ontario 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.