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Falls prevention

Did you know that many incidents in hospitals are related to falling?

While only some falls cause injuries, they can affect walking and make it harder to stay independent. There are usually a number of reasons for someone falling. These may include
poor balance, trying to maintain independence, unfamiliar environments and obstacles in the environment, poor eyesight, unsafe footwear and some medicines, to name a few.

Here are some ways in which our staff are working to reduce your risk of falling while you are in hospital:

  • helping you to settle in, keeping your surroundings safe and providing you with fall-prevention information
  • assessing your risk of falling and discussing the results with you to develop and implement a care plan suited to your needs. This care plan may involve you seeing a range of staff, who specialise in different areas.

Everyone has a role to play in preventing falls.

What you can do:

  1. Use your call bell when you require assistance and keep it within easy reach.
  2. If staff recommend that you need assistance or supervision when moving, please ask them for this assistance and wait until they come to help you.
  3. Bring to hospital any equipment you normally use, such as spectacles and walking aids.
  4. If you have a walking aid, make sure it is in good condition and that you use it rather than using furniture or walls for balance.
  5. If you have spectacles, only wear your distance ones when walking. Take special care when using bifocal or multi-focal glasses.
  6. Wear comfortable clothing that is not too long or loose.
  7. Whenever you are up and about, wear comfortable, low-heeled and non-slip shoes that fit you well rather than slippers, or speak to staff about obtaining some non-slip traction socks.
  8. Take your time when getting up from sitting or lying down.
  9. Let staff know if you feel unwell or unsteady on your feet.
  10. Familiarise yourself with your room, its furniture and bathroom. Look out for environmental hazards such as spills and clutter that may cause a fall and tell staff about them promptly.
  11. Keep your fluid levels up, as dehydration may cause you confusion.

If you do have a fall, staff will take action to identify what contributed to your fall and reduce the risk of you experiencing another. You may be assessed by a doctor and staff will repeat some or all of your fall risk-assessment. This may result in changes being necessary to your care plan. However, any changes to your care plan will be discussed with you.

Preventing falls at home

Preventing falls is important when you go home as well. Before you leave hospital you may be referred to follow-up services to make your home safer and to reduce your risk of falling.

Key points to remember:

  • use your call bell early if you require assistance with getting up
  • always have shoes or the traction socks provided to you on before walking
  • alert staff if you do have a fall.

This fact sheet has been adapted from Preventing Falls and Harm From Falls in Older People: Best practice Guidelines for Australian Hospitals, developed by the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care (2009).

Read this information in other languages

Falls prevention—Chinese Simplified

Falls prevention—Chinese Traditional

Falls prevention—Vietnamese

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Last modified 06/1/2016.
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