Whanganui DHB welcomes new falls prevention initiative
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24 April 2013

Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) has welcomed a new falls prevention initiative being trialled by lower North Island DHBs, which aims to increase awareness of a patient’s fall risk and how much help they need to move about safely.

The trial, which makes use of a suite of resources developed by the Health Quality Safety Commission (HQSC), enables all staff to easily see what level of help a patient requires to mobilise and keep safe from a fall.

“This initiative is designed to support staff in focusing on the particular needs of a patient and to involve them in how to keep safe when moving about in the ward or unit, and of course, when they return home,” says WDHB Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation Ward clinical nurse manager Amanda Van Elswijk.

Coloured tags on walkers and crutches are letting people know how much help is needed

“The coloured tags are attached to a patient’s walker or crutches and allow staff to see at a glance, how much help a particular patient needs based on the ‘traffic light’ grading system used.

“A red symbol means the patient needs help to move around and should not walk alone, orange means they require supervision and may need help on longer walks and green means they are ‘good to go’ without assistance.”

Included in the range of resources are posters, bedside magnets and signs to remind staff that many patients are at risk of serious harm from falling and it is the business of all of us to work to keep patients safe.
 
“As falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation for older people, and with over 50 percent of those falls happening in the home, it is hoped patients will continue using the equipment tags at home and in rest homes,” says Mrs Amanda Van Elswijk.
 
A national patient safety campaign, initially focusing on reducing harm from falls, is being coordinated by the Health Quality & Safety Commission and will be launched in May. The campaign will also focus on healthcare-associated infections, medications and perioperative harm.
 
More information about reducing harm from falls is available from the Health Quality Safety
Commission’s website, www.hqsc.govt.nz