Every member of your health care team plays a vital role in Falls Prevention. There are at least 17 different health disciplines here at Women’s College Hospital (WCH) and their work spans across many of the different programs. These Health Disciplines follow the WCH Falls Prevention and Injury Reduction Policy that makes it “everyone’s responsibility to prevent falls from happening on site.”
Patients also have a role to play in falls prevention by ensuring they are safe when attending virtual appointments and in person appointments. They can do this by communicating concerns to their health care professionals and by taking the steps as indicated below.
In Cardiology, before a patient is to have a test (e.g. a treadmill test), Cardiac Technologists do a visual assessment for testing appropriateness and use our standards of regulatory college practice which states: “Assess the patient’s physical and emotional limitations and ensure that the patient will not be expected to perform any task or movement that would cause physical harm”.
If a patient appears to be at a higher risk for a fall, they will discuss with their cardiology team (doctor or nurse) to suggest a safer test for the heart and lower the risk.
The Joint Department of Medical Imaging observes standard safety measures to safeguard all patients against injury due to falls while in the department. These standard safety measures may include, but are not limited to:
- completing an adequate and ongoing assessment of a patient’s mobility status, from when they arrive at the front desk until after their imaging is complete.
- ensuring the proper deployment and use of equipment and mobility aids (stretcher rails, brakes, mechanical lifter, grab bars, etc.), and encouraging patients to use personal mobility devices
- ensuring falls risk is passed on to clinical team to support the safest care to the patient (putting falls risk icon in our Coral RIS system and adding a note)
- encouraging patients to keep their shoes on to give them better balance and traction
- remaining available and accessible for providing support to the patient as required
Dietitians can help assess and treat malnutrition, which is associated with falls risk. Unfortunately, malnutrition is common in some groups: nearly 1 in 3 seniors are at risk. One in 4 patients admitted to hospital are malnourished, and malnourished patients are twice as likely to be re-admitted to hospital.
Dietitians can help by:
- Screening for nutrition risk
- Assessing nutritional intakes and losses, appetite, weight loss, and other factors affecting nutrition
- Perform nutrition focused physical assessments to identify malnutrition
- Treat malnutrition through a nutrition care plan which may incorporate education, counseling, nutrition supplements/products, and/or linking to community resources
ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES (EVS):
EVS department is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting the facility, which can have a great impact on staff and patient falls risk. When cleaning floors, staff will place wet floor caution signs to advise patients, visitors, and staff, that the area may be wet and they should proceed with caution. Staff check runner mats and scrapers daily at entrances and elevators to ensure they are not slipping and in good working condition. Staff are also responsible for portering and will assist patients when wheelchair transportation is safer than walking.
Registered Kinesiologists have a lot of impact with respect to reducing falls in patients that they see. Kinesiologists work with patients who have cardio-respiratory illness, or musculoskeletal conditions that require specific exercises and strategies to help with health improvement. Falls risk and assessment is key in their introduction to each patient that they evaluate, and making action plans that address a patient’s falls prevention. These treatment plans are shared with the team, so others are aware of this attention that is needed.