Falls prevention strategy team at St. Joseph’s Health Care London

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With falls being one of the highest reported event categories in St. Joseph’s patient safety reporting system, and taking into account the impact a fall can have on one’s independence, health, and overall well-being, a team was struck to address the issue of falls for all of St. Joseph’s Health Care, London’s hospital sites.

The System-wide Falls Prevention Strategy Team is made up of staff in various positions across the organization who are working diligently to lead in the development and maintenance of a falls prevention strategy. This corporate-wide strategy identifies the way that different units, programs and sites are addressing fall prevention and minimizing injury due to falls based on their specific patient population. Work done to date has focused on education, assessment, monitoring, and evaluation.

The team has had many milestones and successes in the early days of strategy implementation at St. Joseph’s from the establishment of a falls prevention strategy inventory for staff, to making improvements to physical environments and processes of care across the organization in order to reduce the risk of falls at our hospital sites. The team continues in its work to put emphasis on the education and training of staff and patients about fall risk and falls prevention, ensure that patients and their family members are aware of their role in the prevention of falls, that staff are continuing to document all falls and near misses in the Patient Safety Reporting System (PSRS) and that results and recommended improvements are being provided to staff so that falls prevention across the organization continues to improve.

This past September, St. Joseph’s falls prevention strategy team hosted its first ever “fall fair” which was an opportunity for physicians, staff and community partners to learn more about falls prevention strategies; assess their knowledge of fall risks by reviewing a mock patient room and attempting to identify all the falls risk that were present; review poster displays; and learn about the latest research and information on falls from University of Western Ontario professor and researcher Dr. MonteroOdasso. Staff members also had a chance to hear a personal account from a family member about the impact a fall had on someone close to her.

St. Joseph’s falls prevention strategy team also participates in the Falls Prevention Virtual Learning Collaborative organized by Safer Healthcare Now, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario. Interprofessional teams from any Canadian acute, long-term or home healthcare setting who would like support and assistance with their falls prevention and harm reduction programs can participate in this collaborative where fall safety initiatives are discussed. St. Joseph’s is providing information to the collaborative around our organization’s fall safety initiatives, including: pre and post fall assessments, appropriate footwear, education, and the safety of assistive devices. By meeting together virtually, using webinars and teleconferences, this collaborative provides health care organizations with an opportunity to share their own initiatives, successes and challenges, and learn from one another.

The team hopes to improve fall rates even further by working on identifying a post-falls assessment tool and process. As a result we are eager to see the rate of falls decrease across all our sites.