Proactive fall prevention in care homes
For mature adults, small accidents like tripping on carpet or slipping in the shower can have a much bigger impact. Falls can lead to broken bones and incur serious or long-term health problems. The NHS report that one third of people over 65 – and half of people over 80 – fall at least once a year. Care home residents are also three times more likely to fall than people living independently in their own homes. Accordingly, the team at Birchwood House do everything in their power to proactively reduce risk and prevent falls at every stage.
Fall prevention starts with ensuring that both staff and residents understand why falls happen, and how they can be prevented. Mitigating risks and keeping prevention strategies in place helps preserve a culture that is proactive, rather than reactive.
Strength and balance exercises, for example, can be as simple as walking or dancing. These are one of the easiest and most important methods for helping to proactively help residents navigate life on stronger footing. The Birchwood House team’s approach also involves comprehensive forward planning, root cause analysis, and robust post-falls investigation. A range of other techniques and strategies are built into Birchwood House’s foundation of care, such as:
- Ensuring sturdy handrails are placed at points of risk (such as bathrooms, hallways, and in rooms)
- Ensuring residents are familiar with, confident, and comfortable navigating their environments
- Carrying out in depth risk assessments with residents to identify fall risk factors and take action to remove or reduce where possible
- Discussing how to manage incidental factors that may increase fall risk, such as keeping frequently used possessions within safe reach when in bed/sitting for long periods
- Keeping residents hydrated, engaged in community physiotherapy and exercise plans
- Good lighting and clean glasses
- Non-slip socks and good fitting footwear
- Pendant call bells and freedom of passage
Making exercise fun, easy and accessible for residents is also hugely important. It is not only key to preventing falls and keeping active, but also to enhancing quality of life and holistic wellbeing. One way this is achieved at Birchwood House for instance, is by incorporating regular and varied group exercise initiatives into the activities planner. One weekly initiative involves a visit from Sarah Domoney, who guides residents in classes that promote functional fitness. Sarah is a dedicated and experienced personal trainer and senior fitness specialist.
Enjoying the outdoors
Often equally important is ensuring that residents have an abundance of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. This can be as simple as meandering about for a walk outside or sitting beneath the sky and enjoying some fresh air. Birchwood House is situated amongst beautiful greenery and lively landscaped gardens that make for a fresh, peaceful environment. This is just one more simple way to inspire residents to engage in incidental forms of exercise to keep strong and active.
Thinking outside the box
Sometimes helping residents to be more active involves a more unique and subtle approach. To complement more traditional forms of exercise and activity like the group classes, Birchwood House holds exciting events. These can further encourage residents to wander outside and keep incidentally active. Take last year’s autumn-themed enchanted woodland picnic, for example. This magical and mesmerising day saw the manor house’s gardens transformed with stunning scenery to bring the theme to life and entice everyone to come along. To add more lively interaction, real life woodland animals joined the occasion, such as hedgehogs, bunnies, frogs, and sheep. Encouraging residents to move their bodies and keep engaging in fun activities as they did when they were younger is a great way to help them feel youthful and be less sedentary.
Keeping residents safe, happy, healthy and active
At the end of the day, the risk of falling can never be removed completely. However, it can be significantly reduced. With the right training, strategies, and initiatives, care homes like Birchwood House are better equipped to minimise risk and maintain a proactive approach that keeps residents safe, happy, healthy, and active.