April 1, 2022

April Falls: Falls are everyone’s responsibility

On April Fools’ Day, we all tend to have a joke and a laugh, but unfortunately, falls are just not funny.

‘April Falls’ is a national initiative to raise awareness to the serious issue of falls and harm resulting from falls.

On this year’s April Fools’ Day, we want to highlight the seriousness of falls in our hospital and under our care. As falls are so important, the Falls Committee is running an inaugural ‘April Falls Week’ campaign, not just today, but over the next week, to remind staff of the important role we can all play to reduce falls with our patients.

Uyen Phan, Associate Director Allied Health and Chair of Falls Committee, explained the importance of minimising falls.

“Falls are everyone’s responsibility. Hospital falls and harm from falls is a serious issue facing all health services, with Northern Health being no exception. For the past number of years, the rate of falls has increased, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Uyen said.

Falls and harm from falls can result in poorer health outcomes to patients and their carer’s, including pain, dysfunction, fear and anxiety of further falls. Falls can also increase hospital length of stay and greater health resource utilisation.

“Despite continual focus on falls risk screening, assessment and implementation of prevention strategies, the number of falls and harm from falls remains stubbornly high. We all have a role to play in reducing them,” said Uyen.

So what can be done to help?

“At a patient level, all patients at Northern Health have a falls risk assessment completed with implementation of appropriate falls minimisation strategies every shift. Patients are assessed for known falls risk factors such as a history of falls, delirium, lower limb weakness and multiple or high falls risk medication,” Uyen explained.

High falls risk patients should be highlighted on communication boards at the bedside. Where able, patients and carers should be educated on falls and provided with information. Clinical practices such as nurse rounding, allied health assessment and provision of appropriate aid and equipment can also help to minimise falls.

Northern Health also runs programs such as the Falls and Balance Service and Balance Boost Outpatient Program.

“At a clinical level, appropriate falls risk assessment and implementation of strategies are important measures. We also know the majority of falls are unwitnessed. All staff can answer the patient call bell and reassure patients to provide greater supervision,” Uyen explained.

High falls risks patients should be referred to allied health as required.

“In the event that a patient does have a fall, complete the falls-post incident review form, review the patient falls risk assessment, and update the daily plan of care and falls management plan with the patient and carer. Lastly, if not familiar, reach out and learn more,” Uyen said.

“At a ward level, nursing, allied health and medical colleagues would all have experience in managing falls. All wards collect and monitor falls data and falls initiative, so speak to an experienced colleague.”

The Falls and Harm from Falls Committee page on the intranet contains important and relevant procedures, forms, patient education brochure and resources, and links to Best Practice sites.

Lastly, the Falls Committee is a dedicated and passionate group with representation across the organisation and would be very happy to provide further information or hear your ideas on how we can improve falls at Northern Health.

The team have also created a Falls Quiz and we encourage all staff to have a go – a $100 gift voucher is up for grabs! Click here to do the quiz.