In recognition of National Fall Prevention Month (November), Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) is sharing resources related to the themes of safe winter walking and prevention of falls for seniors’, children and within healthcare facilities.
Every year there are many injuries related to falls —in 2018/19, PMH staff reported over 7,000 falls within facilities and community-based clients. This means there are on average over 600 falls a month within our region’s community programs and facilities. Falls are the leading cause of permanent, partial and total injury-related disability for Manitobans of any age and of children hospitalizations. Approximately 24% of the falls reported within PMH in 2018/19 resulted in an injury, thus the goal is to reduce this percentage through a multi-faceted approach.
What can be done to reduce falls among seniors living at home? A multi-faceted approach can help- eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, wearing non-slip footwear both inside and outside, installing adequate lighting, having grab bars in the washroom, scheduling a medication review with your healthcare professional, having regular eye exams, eliminating tripping hazards, and being on the lookout for safety hazards all play a role.
What can be done to reduce childhood falls? Children are often injured while playing sports or playing on playground equipment, so ensure the activity is well-supervised, is appropriate for their age and safety gear is worn for those activities it is recommended for. For example, bike helmets are able to prevent a head injury in many cases when a fall or accident occurs. Trampolines have unfortunately resulted in a high number of injuries, and should be used with caution. Infants should never be left unattended on a change table, sofa, adult bed or in a crib with the side rail down. Ensure windows and doors are secured and don’t leave toys or other items on the stairs. Use baby gates at both the top and bottom of stairs.
What can be done to reduce falls within facilities? Intentional rounding can reduce falls and involves asking individuals three questions before leaving their room: Do you need to use the washroom? Do you have any pain/discomfort? Do you need anything before I leave? Staff are to keep hallways/rooms clutter-free and put out wet floor signs when needed. Bedrails should be left down in most cases to avoid having the individual fall out of bed. Encourage mobilization (whenever possible) to help reduce fragility and maintain independence. Ensure individuals have non-slip footwear on whenever they are out of bed. Review medications regularly to identify those that potentially cause falls. Ensure mobility aids are used where warranted and are in good repair.
What can be done for safe winter walking? Your footwear plays a major role, so select boots that fit well and have excellent grip. Replace footwear regularly and use shoe grips or ice cleats in icy conditions (remembering to remove them before walking on indoor flooring). Walk like a penguin by walking slowly taking small steps and pointing toes outward. Put sand or ice melt on your steps and sidewalk to reduce slippery conditions and use caution when entering or exiting a vehicle or building.
Be sure to speak to your healthcare professionals regarding falls prevention- especially if you have experienced falls and/or are afraid of falling.
For more information, contact:
Nancy Tregunna, Innovations and Quality Improvement Specialist, Co-Lead of Regional Falls Prevention Committee Prairie Mountain Health