Resident falls can be a particular challenge for nursing home staff and administrators. They occur frequently and can have a significant impact on residents’ quality of life and facility operations. According to the CDC, 1.4 million adults age 65 or older live in nursing homes — and that population is expected to reach 3 million by 2030. The CDC’s elderly fall statistics make it clear that falls are a significant danger for our elders:
- Nursing homes with 100 beds report between 100 and 200 falls per year, with many more going unreported;
- Nursing home residents average 2.6 falls per person per year;
- 35% of falls occur among residents who cannot walk;
- About 10% to 20% of falls cause serious injuries, with 2% to 6% causing fractures;
- About 1,800 nursing home residents die each year from falls.
Fall survivors often suffer from disability and depression, feelings of helplessness, and isolation associated with fear of falling. Nursing home facilities treating these residents and the effects of their falls typically face costs surpassing $7,300 per non-fatal fall. At an average of 2.6 falls per resident per year, those costs escalate quickly and can severely impact operations.
Electronic Fall Interventions
Fortunately, care facilities can use technology to improve fall interventions and predictions. The implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) can bolster fall predictions, but have plenty of room for improvement. With the increasing nursing home population and the expected decline of the caregiver-to-resident ratio, facilities must adopt new technology to help ease their workload and ensure the best possible patient care.
Rather than relying on predictive measures alone, facilities could significantly improve their fall prevention efforts with active monitoring technology. Nursing home staff can be updated in real-time when a resident is getting out of a chair or bed with the assistance of pressure monitors. Changes in pressure sensed by these pads alert staff to potential fall risk and allow for immediate response. This way, the chance of a fall is radically reduced or eliminated. In the rare event that a resident does fall, they are not left alone for extended periods of time and can receive rapid care.
Such systems can even be used to improve your EHRs. The data picked up by these sensors can be used to create reports, making it easier to identify patterns and prevent falls in high risk patients. This data adds to a facility’s predictive and preventative power. By implementing these systems, administrators can save thousands of dollars in costs and ensure their residents a higher quality of life.