How Senior Care Communities Can Develop a Fall Recovery Plan for Resident and Staff Safety

Falls are a significant risk in senior care communities, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that more than one in four older people experience falls each year. According to the CDC, people who have fallen once are twice as likely to fall again, and one in five falls results in a serious injury, such as broken bones or a head injury.

While we’ve previously discussed the value of fall prevention in senior care communities, having a recovery plan in place for when falls occur is just as essential. Taking the time to adequately plan for fall recovery can contribute to resident and staff safety.

The Importance of Fall Recovery Plans

Steve Powell

Steve Powell, founder of IndeeLift

Many fall recovery plans are dependent on calling EMS for lift assist, but such an approach has several issues. “This approach can leave the resident and staff waiting around until EMS arrives to do an injury assessment, and then lift the resident from the floor,” explains Steve Powell, founder of IndeeLift and an expert in fall recovery for seniors. “In busier cities, a person may be stuck on the floor for extended periods of time, risking further damage to their own health, and tying up residential caregiving staff in the meantime.”

Powell notes that people who fall, including those who aren’t injured, may develop a fear of falling. That fear of falling can start a dangerous cycle, since residents may start to reduce their everyday activities out of fear. If residents are less active, they can become weaker, which increases their chance of falling. Additional falls can increase the resident’s fear of falling, causing them to become even less active, and starting the cycle again.

“This is where fall recovery plans can make a huge difference,” says Powell. “Having a fall recovery plan that enables staff to get a patient up safely and quickly lessens the patient’s anxiety about falls and the fall-recovery process.”

He notes that some EMS departments have begun to implement penalties for licensed care facilities who call EMS for non-emergency lift-assist needs. “With this in mind, having a sound fall recovery plan can also save money for residential care facilities,” he says.

How to Develop a Fall Recovery Plan

For senior care communities wanting to develop a fall recovery plan, the Residential Manager, the Assisted Living Manager, and typically the Director of Nursing should all be involved in the process.

The plan should encompass the following:

  1. Responsible party injury assessment.
  2. Determination of next steps by local staff or a call to EMS, depending on the presence of an injury.
  3. Assisting the resident onto a mechanical lift, or wait for EMS to arrive if the resident is injured.

According to Powell, it’s essential for senior care communities to address the potential for the resident and/or staff to be injured in the fall recovery process. “Lift technology like IndeeLift eliminates the potential for injuries to the resident and the staff alike by having the machine do the heavy lifting,” he says.

Powell notes that the plan should include the use of technology, like a lift. The plan should also include training steps that prepare staff in the fall recovery of residents who are not injured.

“Fall recovery is pretty straight forward,” says Powell. “If the resident is not injured, assistive lift devices in the hands of qualified staff can ensure the resident is up in just a few minutes. When an injury has occurred, the process of calling for EMS will ensure that the medical assessment is performed by a qualified party.”

How to Maintain a Fall Recovery Plan

The fall recovery plan should be annually assessed to ensure it’s up to date and that appropriate staff have been kept updated on the proper procedures. It’s also important to ensure that new staff are trained in the fall recovery procedures and plan. “Refresher courses should be offered annually to ensure existing staff are ready for a fall event to occur and new staff are trained properly to follow the prescribed procedures,” says Powell.

If a fall occurs, a senior care community should review the response and verify that the fall recovery plan was properly followed. “Additionally, it’s important to make sure that the facilities take record of the facts related to each specific fall event,” Powell notes.

Improving Fall Recovery

“A new approach to fall recovery has been made available with the invention of patient lift tools designed for fall recovery,” says Powell. He notes that such lift tools can also help to reduce reliance on EMS resources, saving time and the cost of outside help. Taking the time to create a fall recovery plan and train staff in how to implement the plan can help ensure that residents who have fallen promptly receive appropriate assistance.

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