The Stoney Health Services (SHS) Falls Prevention Strategy (See Appendix I) aims Falls can happen at any age; however, as we age, the consequences of a fall become more serious for the individual as well as his or her family and community. Falls are recognized as the second leading cause of injury in older persons. One in three people aged 65 years or older experiences a fall at least once each year. The risk for falls is greater if a person has a documented history of falls, a gait disturbance, reduced mobility, cognitive impairment and/or a debilitating chronic/ acute health condition. In addition, older Aboriginal people are twice as likely to be hospitalized for reasons related to a fall as compared to non-Aboriginal people.
A person can be predisposed to falls due to a range of interactive risk factors. See ‘Appendix III: Risk Factors for Falls’). Some fall risk factors are intrinsic to his/her biological makeup (i.e. poor vision, low blood pressure) and others are extrinsic; that is, they are related to environmental, social or behavioural conditions (i.e. slippery stairs, impetuous movements). Some fall risk factors are modifiable; they can be changed, modified or compensated for (e.g. diet, exercise, muscle weakness, etc.). Others factors are non-modifiable; they cannot be changed (e.g. genetics, age, etc.). Studies also show that clients living at home are at risk for accidents not only related to their health status but also related to their home environments (CPSI, 2013). The environments in clients’ homes vary considerably in terms of access, lighting, space, etc. Safety of clients and families, SHS personnel and other care providers is enhanced when risk assessments are regularly carried out in homes where clients are receiving services.
Falls can lead to loss of independence, pain and suffering, moderate to severe injuries, and even, death. They are also the leading contributor to new admissions of older persons into residential care. Falls prevention is everyone’s responsibility; ours, our clients’ and our community’s. As such, it is integrated into our Home Safety Risk Assessment process and is an important part of our ongoing Quality and Safety Plan.