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The importance of a fall prevention plan at your facility

Posted by Dude Solutions Canada, Inc. | Monday, August 24, 2015

The importance of a fall prevention plan at your facility Of all the potential health and safety risks that seniors can face, few are as widespread or potentially serious as falls. As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted, gravity is the leading cause of injuries to seniors, both fatal and nonfatal, every year.

Some 33 percent of older adults fall at some point in their lifetime, with fewer than half of them bringing the potentially embarrassing issue up with doctors or support staff. Treatment and recovery of fall-related injuries can be complicated and extensive, which is why focusing on preventing slips in the first place is a good strategy to take. 

Here are a few ways you can boost your fall-prevention efforts.

Focus on problem areas

While falls can happen literally anywhere, statistically they tend to be far more concentrated in certain areas than others. The  National Center for Assisted Living noted that the vast majority of falls occur in a person's home, with bathrooms and bedrooms being some of the most fall-prone areas. In fact, the source indicated that over half of all falls take place in these residential settings.

This statistic may be alarming, but the silver lining is that it can also help you to better focus your preventive efforts. For example, if you know that many falls can happen in bathrooms, it may be a good idea to have your maintenance teams install assistive fixtures in residents' apartments, like hand holds and railings. These simple additions can enable seniors to retain their independence while providing them with the support and security they need to prevent injury.

The importance of custodial services

Not surprisingly, the backbone of your fall-prevention efforts will center on your custodial services. Clutter and mess can contribute significantly to the odds that a senior will slip and fall, as can improperly cleaned and maintained floors, staircases and other essential infrastructure. 

Have your cleaning staff focus on removing clutter on a daily basis, especially around doorways and staircases. Ensure that your shipping and receiving needs are relegated to a designated area where boxes can be dropped off and left without endangering residents. 

It's also a good idea to adjust your regular cleaning habits to be more fall-friendly. For example, mopping is an integral part of your daily cleaning efforts, but floors that are left to dry on their own can be very dangerous for seniors who may be unsteady on their feet. Recently mopped floors should be dried using a blow drier, or the area should be cordoned off to prevent residents from inadvertently slipping and falling.

The little things

Don't overlook the importance of small finishing touches you can implement to add an extra layer of protection for your residents. Fit any rugs at your facility with non-slip rubber backings so they are less likely to shift and slide when seniors walk on them. Keep hallways and doorways free of extension cords when possible. If cleaning or maintenance operations are carried out during the day that require the use of extension cords, cover the wires with cord strips so your residents' feet - and those of your staff as well - don't get tangled up. 

Providing support

One thing to keep in mind is the need to preserve resident dignity and autonomy. Many seniors may be living with chronic conditions that may make them more prone to falls, but might be embarrassed to discuss these issues with support staff. Providing resources for residents to learn about fall prevention privately can help to empower them to live happier, healthier and more safely. 

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