Falls Risk Assessment
In Australia, falls-related injuries result in the hospitalisation of tens of thousands of older people each year and many hundreds of deaths. In the hospital setting, falls are a frequent reason for extended lengths of stay and often result in adverse consequences and complications. One in three Australians over the age of 65 experiences a fall each year. Common falls-related injuries include: hip and wrist fractures; head injuries, shoulder dislocations; abrasions, bruising, and loss of confidence.
When older people come into care, quite often we need to assess them for risk factors, like risk for falling, risk for developing problems with their skin, pressure ulcers and so on. Most facilities would have some kind of tool to assess different kind of risks, so the first thing would be to determine whether the facility has risk assessment for falls, risk assessment for skin break down and so on.
There are also general screening tools for depression in aged care or older age and all these tools can help facilitate that process. Where that does not exist it would be very important that the assessment is done looking at how the person walks and particularly finding out how they walk at the home. Quite often the family will tell you whether they hold on to furniture to walk around, whether they use a stick or not, whether they need somebody’s arm to go up and down the stairs.
t also helps to know whether they live in ground floor house or unit or whether there are steps and to find out if they have actually fallen at home, because if they have, the chances are that they will also fall coming into hospital.
The other thing to remember is that for people who have some confusion regardless of whether it is acute or chronic, coming into a new environment increases the risk that they would fall, so that it would be necessary for nurses to be aware that the person is at higher risk of falling simply because they are old and in a new environment.
Falls and falls-related injuries in the hospital setting can be prevented in a number of ways, including:
- Education of patients, staff and carers about falls risk factors and appropriate intervention strategies
- Orienting patients to the immediate environment and telling them how to obtain assistance
- Close monitoring of at-risk patients
- Ensuring a safe environment, e.g., dry floors, adequate lighting, stable furniture, uncluttered rooms and proper use of bedrails
In the video, Jenneke discusses the importance of assessing older clients for their risk of falling and mentions specific tools for doing this. Have a look at the links below, to see how falls-risk can be minimised and falls injuries prevented.