The One Simple Way to Prevent Trips and Falls in Home Care and Beyond

Trips and falls were just part of everyday life when we were children, but as we reach the later stages of life, the effects of these accidents can be life-threatening.

The National Institute for Health Care and Excellence states that falls that result in an injury are the leading cause of accident-related mortality among older people.

Here in Australia, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that in 2013-14, 103,025 people aged 65 and over were hospitalised for a fall-related injury.

People living in home care are at the highest risk of having an accident due to the increased independence it provides, but 25% of accidents in 2013-14 were reported to have occurred in senior care homes, meaning residents are also at risk.

The Solution? Drink Water.

The figures have prompted many experts in the industry to look into how to better prevent these types of accidents, but one care home in Hampshire, England may have found a simple solution already – drinking more water.

Dehydration can lead to dizziness and fainting, which can naturally result in an increased risk of trips and falls.

With this in mind, Hampshire Council’s Clinical Commissioning Group, led by senior nurse Rachel Lock, looked into seeing if promoting drinking more water in a care home had any effect on the number of trips and falls.

It’s All in the Cup

The project involved encouraging residents to drink more water from brightly coloured red cups, which was supervised and monitored by specialised staff who had been trained beforehand.

“I’d seen how using coloured cups in a ward setting were making a difference and I was interested in trying it in a residential care home.” said Ms Lock.

Alongside the coloured cups, a blender was also introduced into the Hampshire Care Home to allow for the creation of various smoothies.

This was done to make water consumption more appealing to some residents who may see drinking plain water every day as a chore.

The Simple Changes Can Make All the Difference

Since being introduced back in December 2016, the project has seen encouraging results among the care home residents.

Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Liz Fairhurst, said that since the projects conception, trips, slips and falls at the Hampshire care home had dropped by 85%.

“We were very pleased to be able to work with the CCG to improve hydration levels among our residents and have been delighted by the results. It proves that even simple changes can make all the difference,” said Ms Fairhurst.

Looking to the future

Rachel Lock now wishes to widen the scope of the project by implementing the idea as part of an individualised plan of care.

“At this early stage they are only an indication – but it’s an encouraging start,” she said.

She says there are also plans work with Bournemouth University to create a study that would look into if different coloured glasses can help tackle dehydration in elderly people.

 

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