Reducing the risk of falls in residential care
Photo by Michael Southam, for Brant News
The St. Joseph's Lifecare Centre and Stedman Community Hospice.
FOR BRANT NEWS
There are several intrinsic risk factors or biological risk factors that can cause a resident to fall.
These are physiological symptoms within the body and often due to the normal aging process. Biological risk factors include impaired vision or hearing, loss of balance, unsteady gait and other chronic diseases.
Extrinsic or environmental risk factors that contribute to falls are improper footwear, loose clothing, clutter and improper use of mobility aids.
Eighty per cent of seniors that fall do so because of biological risk factors. Therefore, it is very important to implement a standardized rehab program such as the falls prevention program and provide treatment strategies to help improve strength, balance and mobility.
In Canada, falls account for 85 per cent of injury admissions for people aged 65 years or older, compared to 22 per cent for people aged 15 to 34.
One of Achieva Health’s signature programs is the falls prevention program. The purpose of this program is to assess and identify residents who have fallen or may be at risk of fall due to intrinsic and extrinsic factors and to provide treatment strategies to improve strength, balance, mobility, posture and seating based on physiotherapy best practices.
The physiotherapist will determine if a resident is a candidate for the falls prevention program. The resident will receive the program in either a standardized falls prevention group exercise class or one on one.
Residents chosen for the falls prevention group exercise class are those who have scored as “low risk to fall.” Typically, they are independent and ambulate with or without a mobility assistive device. The residents chosen for the one-on-one program are those who score “medium to high risk to fall” and are typically non-ambulatory, have a history of repeated falls or have certain cognitive impairments.
The goal is to have the residents participating in the falls prevention group exercise class or one-on-one program two to three times per week. The falls prevention group exercise class is approximately 30 minutes in length.
A falls risk assessment test score will be collected for each resident initially when they start the program and this score will be reassessed every quarter to track improvements in the resident’s strength, balance and mobility.
The program will be evaluated every quarter by the physiotherapist and outcome measures will be recorded.
The falls prevention program has been successful in both the long-term care and retirement residences. The results from this program have been recognized and published in a number of journals, including the Ontario Long Term Care Association and the Ontario Association of Gerontology.