Old people are the most vulnerable group of patients. A young person experiencing a fall can get away with bruises and scratches. However, for an older adult, the consequences can be detrimental: it can lead to physical injuries and even death. Due to their age, seniors have difficulties maintaining the balance; have a poorer vision and weaker muscles to control their bodies. Injuries after the fall take a longer time to heal, require more intensive therapies and can impose financial pressure on seniors.
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Since elderly people make up a significant proportion of patients in health care institutions, their issues should be carefully addressed. Therefore, this capstone project will focus on falls of the elderly population in healthcare settings and prevention methods.
Factors contributing to a fall in hospitals can be cognitive or balance impairments as well unsafe environment such as misused equipment, slippery or wet surfaces. In addition to physical and psychological impact, falls influence families too and result in higher admission rates in nursing homes.
In recent years, this topic increasingly interested researchers. Studies show that preventive methods such as performing health screening promptly, intensive and regular physical therapy as well as raising the awareness of fall prevention can help to reduce the probability of fall occurrence (Matchar et al., 2017; Pohl et al., 2015). Thus, taking appropriate steps is crucial to prevent the adverse consequences of falls.
Falls endanger seniors’ safety and quality of life; can lead to serious injuries, increased sickness rate, inability to perform everyday activities independently, increased mortality and depression (Stenhagen, Ekström, Nordell, & Elmståhl, 2014). As reported by the Joint Commission (2015), elderly patients are especially vulnerable to falls in hospital settings; therefore they require additional treatment and extended stays in the hospital causing substantial health care expenses. Falls directly affect health care facilities because hospitals do not get reimbursement for longer stays resulted from falls. For instance, falls cost hospitals over $20 million each year from injury and death (Lange et al., 2009).
Low staffing ratios is a common issue in nursing, leading to lower quality of nursing care and patient satisfaction. Due to this fact, there is also a lot of pressure on nurses, because after a fall elderly patients require extensive nursing care. Since falls in hospitals happen due to the unsafe environment or shortage of appropriate nursing care, nurses are also responsible for taking fall preventive measures in hospital settings.
Falls can significantly impact all aspects of a senior’s life as well as affect health care facilities. Therefore, for a nurse, it is essential to provide high-quality health care to elderly patients who experienced a fall as well as patients who are at risk for falls through careful multi-factorial risk assessment. In order to achieve it, nurses should be provided with the appropriate training and tools to evaluate the effect of different programs.
Various evidence-based fall prevention programs deliver services at home or communities. Fall prevention program will include creating a Fall Prevention Team. This team will introduce preventive method ideas to staff and evaluate the outcome using Morse Fall Scale Assessment Tool. It will also be responsible for routine in services to nursing staff for education re-enforcement; and better patient education.
Teaching patients and raising awareness is a key factor in prevention risks of a fall. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2013) recommends nurses to inform patients about measures to prevent further falls; teach motivation strategies including preventable exercising; emphasize the psychological, physical and social benefits of preventive measures; provide further assistance information and inform them about coping methods in case of a fall.
Falls significantly influence the seniors’ quality of life. Thus, a suggested solution for the issue of falls in elderly people is performing a complex of careful risk assessment, creating a fall prevention program that will use fall assessment tools, evaluating its results and raising the awareness through consistently providing substantial information about preventive measures to the elderly patients in hospital settings.
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