Easy Steps to Prevent Falls

The Ramapo Ridge Psychiatric Hospital Falls Team offers the following guidelines to prevent falls at home:

  1. Remove throw rugs, or buy throw rugs with non-skid backings.
  2. Fix loose or uneven stairs and carpeting.
  3. Place electrical cords next to walls. Have additional outlets installed, if necessary.
  4. Keep objects off stairs and the floor.
  5. Light hallways and stairways.
  6. Install handrails on both sides of stairs.
  7. Use a step stool to reach items on high shelves. Never use a chair as a step stool.
  8. Use non-slip mats or self-stick strips in tubs and showers.
  9. Install grab bars inside a tub and next to a toilet.
  10. Place bedside lamps within easy reach.
  11. Use automatic night lights.
  12. Exercise regularly to improve balance and coordination.
  13. Slowly rise after sitting or lying down.
  14. Keep emergency numbers in large print near phones.
  15. Consider wearing a medical-alert device.

Through an all-staff effort, Ramapo Ridge achieved a 25-percent reduction in its falls rate last year. The rate decreased from 6.631 falls per 1,000 patient days to 4.93 per 1,000 patient days. Additionally, there were no hip fractures.

“We are proud to report that the falls rate has declined three years in a row,” says Sara Cilderman, RN, CPHQ, Mental Health Quality Manager. “The major keys to this significant achievement have been reinforcement, accountability, and peer-to-peer education.”

Steps taken to reduce falls include providing assistance, if required, to patients with toileting, communicating fall-risk information from shift-to-shift, increasing observation of patients who are taking medications which can cause drowsiness, and educating patients and families about falls prevention. Additionally, patients at an increased risk for falls wear yellow socks, indicating to all staff that they should not walk without accompaniment.

The Ramapo Ridge Falls Team effort is part of campus-wide falls-reduction program entitled “Call! Don’t fall!” The program is credited with decreasing falls by increasing falls-prevention practices. For example, The Longview Assisted Living Residence has tracked trends over the past two years on the correlation between a resident’s active participation in fitness programs and occurrence and severity of falls. The findings reveal that residents who regularly participated are two to four times less likely to fall and have few injuries.

For more information about falls prevention, call (201) 848-4463, email khockstein@chccnj.org, or visit our Senior Living and Publications sections.

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