This project has shown what a significant contribution telecare can make to the management of falls in high risk residents. Technology is only part of the answer, with staff training and partnership also vital to the success of the project, however there is no doubt that telecare is a fantastic tool for safeguarding the health and wellbeing of residents.
Yvonne Cheung, Falls Co-ordinator, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
Older people living in care homes are three times more likely to fall than older people living in their own homes, and there are ten times more hip fractures in care homes than in other environments. Approximately 40% of hospital admissions from care homes follow a fall.
There are many contributing factors to this increased risk including:
- Residents of care homes are more likely to be physically frail
- Residents may be physically inactive, resulting in weak muscles and poor balance
- Many residents have long term medical conditions which can increase their risk of falling
- Residents may be taking a number of medications
- Newer residents are unfamiliar with their new surroundings
How did Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s project using telecare in a care home help to prevent falls and mitigate their effects?
What We Did
In 2012 NHS funding was secured to assess the effectiveness of using telecare to reduce falls in residential care homes. The Council’s community integrated assessment team undertook multifactorial falls assessments of residents of a care home in Stockton-on-Tees to identify those at high risk of falling.
Nineteen residents took part in the pilot project as a result. Many falls occur when getting up from or into a chair or bed unaided, therefore the telecare solutions provided focus on alerting staff when these activities took place. Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s telecare emergency response service Care Call supplied and installed Tunstall bed and chair occupancy sensors and passive infra-red (PIR) movement detectors and fall detectors based on the individual needs of each resident. Should a sensor detect a possible fall a member of staff would be notified of the nature and location of the fall on a portable CareAssist handset, enabling them to respond swiftly.
As well as receiving demonstrations of the telecare solutions and their features and benefits, staff also received training to increase awareness of the cause and effects of falls. Falls prevention posters were displayed as a reminder for staff and visitors, and a step-by-step plan was created to help care staff to look at risk factors and the action required to help residents avoid falling.
- Falls reduced by 67% from 107 to 35 over 3 months (17 residents)
- Cost saving £34,612 over 3 months
- Staff report technology easy to use