Taking steps to cut falls in Fife hospitals

Senior staff nurse Helen Caithness does a comfort check with patient Isabella Caldwell.
Senior staff nurse Helen Caithness does a comfort check with patient Isabella Caldwell.
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Staff at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital have been taking steps to help reduce injuries to patients falling in its wards and corridors.

Simple things like checking people’s medication and risk of falling when they are first admitted to carrying out comfort rounds every two hours for those with a history of falls and ensuring they have spectacles, water, walking aids and access to a call buzzer within easy reach may not seem like much, but can help make a real difference when brought together as part of a ‘Falls Call to Action’ programmes.

And more physical methods such as seat pads and clothing alarms to alert staff if a patient with more serious frailty issues, including delirium or dementia, tries to go walkabout without assistance.

The series of measures introduced over the past two years has resulted in a 15 per cent reduction in the number of harmful falls and almost half the previous number of falls resulting in fractures, which can in turn lead to a prolonged hospital stay.

One person who knows all too well about the dangers of hospital falls is Ella Brown who has worked closely with NHS Fife on improvement programmes following the tragic loss of her father after a hospital fall in which he sustained head injuries.

She said: “Small changes can make a big difference and by doing things such as changing the design of door handles and introducing comfort rounds, ensuring they have drinks and assisted toilet breaks, NHS Fife has evolved care and reduced the likelihood of patients falling and injuring themselves.”