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Support for city care home residents in preventing falls

26th September 2017 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in

A new service to help prevent falls in care home residents has reduced the number of patients waiting for an appointment to zero.

In May 2017, the Leicester City Care Home Therapy Team, provided by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, was commissioned to support frail patients living in care homes, who are at risk of falling, or who may have had falls already, to keep them safe and out of hospital.

When the service started, there were 56 care home residents waiting for therapy assessments but, within just eight weeks, all of those patients had been assessed by a therapist and the waiting list was reduced to zero. Since May 2017, the team has helped 135 patients in Leicester City care homes.

Dr Nainani, GP and clinical lead for falls prevention with Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Falls are the most common cause of serious injury in older patients and preventing them is a high priority. People should not be afraid to come forward and ask their GP for help if they’ve fallen or had a near miss, as there is a lot that can be done to help.

We already have a Community Therapy service that supports people living in Leicester City who are at risk of falling, but we wanted to offer an additional resource specifically for care home residents. We are extremely pleased with what the team has achieved so far.”

Claire Dukes, the team’s physiotherapist, said: “Although falls are common in frail patients, there is a lot that can be done to reduce the risk of people falling and this is the focus of the support that we offer.

“It’s important not to sit down for long periods and to keep as active as possible. Exercises can improve strength and range of movement, which also helps, and the right clothing is important too. Trousers that are too long, clothes that trail on the floor and slippers that don’t fit snugly are all too easy to trip over and making these simple changes can make a real difference.”

The Care Homes Therapy Team offers each patient a series of sessions, where they are given tailored exercises and practical advice that’s appropriate for their needs, including how to use walking aids safely. The team can also recommend that a patient has their medication reviewed, as some medicines have side effects which can affect people’s balance.

As well as seeing patients, the Care Homes Therapy Team has now started the second phase of the programme, training care home staff and managers in falls prevention, how to spot possible trip hazards and how to identify residents who would benefit from sessions with the team.

Beaumont Hall, In Beaumont Leys, is one of the homes that has had support from the Care Homes Therapy Team, their manager Kerri Simpson said: “When I started working here in May, I was concerned that there was a high number of residents having falls.  The team has a great rapport with our residents and they have been really helpful in training our care staff to be more aware of how different conditions affect mobility, why falls happen and what they can do to help prevent them.

“Now our staff have a much better understanding and are able to support residents to do their exercises and come up with ideas to help keep them safe. Best of all, we now have far fewer residents admitted to hospital as a result of falls.”

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