One of the greatest risks people face as they age is the damage that can occur after suffering a serious fall. Fractures among older adults are much more common and the period of recovery that much longer; for some, their life quality may never return after a fall.
Team members in long-term care homes understand the risks all too well and work hard to mitigate and prevent them. In this regard, the team at Erin Mills Lodge has much to be proud of, for when they look back over 2017 they can say that among Ontario’s 630 long-term care homes, the falls rate in their Mississauga home is among the lowest.
Director of Nursing Care Sharon Bell says the path to falls prevention success began simply enough with the annual Ministry of Health-mandated Quality Improvement Plan a few years ago. “We looked at (falls) a lot closer than we had in the past and realized there were little bits and pieces that we could improve upon.”
It begins with the move-in process, Sharon says. The team began to delve much deeper into each new resident’s history, analyzing any potential fall risk and discussing safeguarding strategies to put into place before a resident even sets foot in the Village.
“We don’t wait and see what they do here,” Sharon says. “We base it on the information given to us and we act right away.”
She points out the team was doing well in terms of the provincial average prior to making this more concerted effort to improve, “but we weren’t where we wanted to be.”
As a team, they began to seriously examine the reasons behind the falls that did occur, acting almost immediately post-incident to discuss the circumstances and develop strategies to prevent similar situations in the future. They looked hard at each individual resident at that point to determine individual strategies all team members could support so that no one person was ever solely responsible for falls prevention.
Communication, then, is one of the best strategies the team can employ, Sharon says. When all team members in every department are aware of each resident’s needs and falls prevention strategies, the risks are much easier to manage.