Preventing falls presents a challenge in nursing home settings

The incidence rate for falls in nursing home residents is two to three times greater than that in community-dwelling elderly (about 1.7 falls per bed annually). Ten to 25% of falls among institutionalized elderly result in a fracture, laceration, or need for hospital care.

Preventing falls constitutes a significant challenge in nursing home settings and requires a substantial interdisciplinary team effort.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a fall is defined as failure to maintain an appropriate lying, sitting, or standing position, resulting in an individual’s abrupt, undesired relocation to a lower level. An episode in which a resident lost his/her balance and would have fallen, were it not for staff interventions, is also considered a fall.

Nursing is a vital part of assessing the resident for Fall Risk. Many facilities use fall assessment tools that are completed by nursing staff within 24 hours of admission, and regulatory guidelines require that a comprehensive patient assessment, the Minimum Data Set (MDS), be completed within 14 days of admission to a nursing home.

This is why a collaborative effort between Nursing, physician, and therapy services is vital. 

While the majority of falls in long-term care settings should be preventable, it is not feasible to prevent all falls, even when the best possible care is provided. BUT, with so many tools available to staff, there is no reason any resident should not have a personalized plan of care to address any fall risk and keep the resident as safe from falls as possible.