A large study of care homes in the UK has found that a coordinated approach to fall prevention in care homes may reduce the number of times residents fall.
Falls in Care Homes Study (FinCH) was led by Professor Pip Logan and experts from the University of Nottingham School of Medicine, Centre for Rehabilitation and Health Care Research. It tested a new approach called the Guide to Action to prevent Falls in Care Homes (GtACH) programme, designed by a collaborative group including staff and families.
The study, published today in the BMJ, was conducted across 84 care homes in 11 different areas of England and included over 1,600 residents over three years.
Reducing falls in care homes by over 43%
Researchers found that the GtACH programme reduced the rate of falls by over 43% compared to residents who did not receive the intervention. They learned there was no adverse effect on residents’ mobility or independence. Plus, it is within the cost thresholds set by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for treatments.
Falls are common in people living in care homes with high risks of injury, admissions to hospitals and are costly to healthcare systems as a result. Although fall prevention interventions are effective in other settings, previous systematic reviews suggested that the benefits were uncertain in residents.
Professor Pip Logan from the Centre for Rehabilitation and Ageing Research was a lead author. She said: “The falls prevention programme significantly reduces the chance of falling over for people living in care homes and is cost-effective. This research is the largest study completed in the UK with the team including academics, care home residents, families, care home staff, social care and NHS employees, a truly interdisciplinary UK trial.”
The GtACH programme
Experts at Nottingham University developed the GtACH programme in collaboration with care home staff and residents to devise a set of guidelines in the form of a 33-point checklist with a list of 33 associated actions that care home staff can use to reduce the risk of falls amongst their residents.
The programme includes one hour of training for staff in small groups, delivered by a fall specialist. A manual summarised the GtACH programme is left in the home after training and includes resources such as a falls incident chart (to detect patterns) and a medication fall risk chart. Once fully trained, staff can use the GtACH risk assessment and guide to action checklist with all residents.
For example, the assessment highlights that a resident is dehydrated, so increasing fluids would be recommended. Overall, the training and resources increase awareness and knowledge about the management of falls.
Victoria Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum, said: “Preventing falls is one of the key priorities within all care homes. This research will support managers and staff to work with people receiving care and support to minimise the risk of falls whilst continuing to prioritise activity and independence. The timing of this could not be better, as it coincides with the publication of the Government White Paper on Adult Social Care reform, People at the Heart of Care. The White Paper incorporates a strong focus on reducing falls, and this research will ensure that care providers can have immediate access to support this aim, using resources produced through research carried out in partnership with care home managers.”