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Falls Prevention Awareness Week and the Role of Digital Technology

10 September 2023

Falls Prevention WeekFalls Prevention Awareness Week (September 18th-22nd, 2023) serves as an annual reminder of the urgent need to address falls in healthcare settings, particularly within hospitals. Recognising the significance of fall prevention is paramount, as falls rank as the foremost cause of emergency admissions for individuals aged 65 and above, with 30% experiencing at least one fall a year.

This year, Falls Prevention Awareness Week marks its 16th anniversary, carrying the theme “From Awareness to Action.” 

According to a report from Age UK, falls are the primary reason older individuals find themselves admitted to hospitals. The NHS England Urgent and Emergency Care plan underscores the need for special care for older individuals, particularly those who are frail, as they might require extended hospital stays.

As we delve into the strategies for preventing falls, it becomes evident that prioritising patient safety holds immense significance throughout hospital stays.

The Scope of Falls in Hospitals

Beyond immediate physical injuries, falls have far-reaching consequences for both patients and health and social care organisations. Patient outcomes suffer as injuries can lead to physical pain, complications like infections, and extended hospital stays. These events not only impact patient well-being, but they also place a significant financial strain on an already stretched healthcare system. By understanding the extent of falls’ impact, hospitals can better appreciate the urgency of implementing effective prevention measures.

Strategies for Fall Prevention in Hospitals

Traditional methods will always have a place in preventing falls. These strategies involve different interventions, from risk assessments to changing the environment. However, it’s important to know that these strategies can come with limitations. Risk assessments could overlook some patients at high risk of falling, environmental changes can be prone to human error, and alarms can contribute to staff fatigue. While valuable, medication reviews, staff, and patient training, can be limited by high patient-to-staff ratios, potentially hindering the effectiveness of these approaches.

The Role of Digital Technology in Falls Prevention

Digital technology, including emerging technologies like wearable devices and artificial intelligence (AI), offers both promises and real-world benefits for patient safety and fall prevention. These innovative tools provide real-time monitoring and alerts through wearable devices, which contribute valuable data to Radar Healthcare’s workflow system.

AI can analyse patient data patterns to identify those at risk of falling, and in practice, wearable devices have demonstrated their ability to monitor patients and send rapid alerts to staff when a fall risk is detected. Radar Healthcare’s fall dashboard visualises these risks, equipping healthcare organisations with actionable insights to enhance patient safety. This technology enables proactive measures and timely interventions, revolutionising patient care.

Case Study: Gorsey Clough

Gorsey Clough, bed residential and nursing care home, customised their incident reporting system to include specific types like falls and pressure ulcers. Each type had its own process. For falls, the software prompted completing or reviewing fall risk assessments and updating mobility care plans based on residents’ changing needs. These actions, which were often overlooked previously, became routine with the introduction of Radar Healthcare. This made sure that all potential risks were identified and managed in the least restrictive way possible.

During Falls Prevention Awareness Week, it’s vital to realise that patient safety requires collaboration and innovation. While traditional strategies have their place, adopting digital tech can enhance fall prevention. Integrating wearable devices and AI analytics enhances patient monitoring and aids in proactive response. By learning from successes like Gorsey Clough, hospitals can redefine safety. Falls Prevention Week isn’t just a yearly event; it’s a commitment to safeguarding those in our care. As healthcare professionals and stakeholders, let’s embrace the potential of technology and work collectively to prevent falls and ensure the well-being of patients within hospital walls.

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