CMS defines a fall as "unintentionally coming to rest on the ground, floor, or other lower level, but not as a result of an overwhelming external force (e.g., resident pushes another resident). An episode where a resident lost his/her balance and would have fallen, if not for staff intervention, is considered a fall. A fall without injury is still a fall."
Falls are not part of the normal aging process. Falls generally happen because of various and diverse risk factors and situations, many of which can be corrected. This interaction is modified by age, disease, and the presence of hazards in the environment. Several studies have shown that the risk of falling increases dramatically as the number of risk factors increases.
Falls are serious and costly to our residents and communities. According to the CDC, each year one out of every three adults aged 65 and older experiences a fall. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again. Of the 1.6 million residents in US nursing facilities, approximately half fall annually, and of those, about 65,000 experience a hip fracture.
The purpose of a falls management program is to provide the resident with the opportunity to achieve the highest level of safe functional mobility. The interdisciplinary team plays a major role in creating and maintaining a falls management program.
Falls management programs are effective. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, falls prevention programs as a group have been shown to reduce the risk of experiencing a fall by 11 percent and monthly rate of falling by 23 percent. In addition, fall-related head injuries and hip fractures may be decreased by almost 10 percent. Falls prevention programs provided to older adults have the potential to be highly cost-effective compared with current practice. Evidence suggests that the best approach to preventing falls is to use both a multifactorial falls risk assessment and management program along with exercise. Care providers must be vigilant in facilitating evidence-based practices that contribute to the best outcomes for every client. Finally, the implementation of a quality falls prevention programs can improve the overall health and quality of life for the residents in your community.
Questions? Contact Dawn Balder.