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Nursing homes can prevent most falls

Perhaps the Pennsylvania nursing home where your parent lives called to inform you that your loved one had fallen from his or her wheelchair. On the other hand, maybe you arrived at the facility for a visit and discovered bruises on your parent's body. The staff may have been apologetic, or they may have seemed disinterested. Perhaps they even blamed your parent for the fall.

Falls in nursing homes are common, and in most cases, they are preventable. Patients who have fallen tend to fall again, often up to three times a year. If your loved one fell, chances are he or she has fallen before or will again without proper care and supervision from the nursing home staff.

How can nursing homes prevent falls?

The decision to place your loved one in a nursing home was likely not an easy one. You certainly want quality care for your parent, but understaffing, poor training and even apathy can lead to neglect of fragile and vulnerable nursing home residents. Your aging loved one may be in poor health, have difficulty balancing or suffer confusion, so the staff should be implementing any of the following to prevent your parent from falling again:

  • Assessing and regularly re-evaluating your loved one's physical and mental conditions
  • Working with your parent to improve strength and balance
  • Ensuring your loved one's wheelchair fits properly and adjusts to prevent your parent from sliding
  • Providing the appropriate assistance when your loved one needs to stand from the wheelchair, bed or other area
  • Installing a seat alarm to alert the staff that your parent is trying to rise from the wheelchair
  • Ensuring your loved one has appropriate grab bars, floor surfaces and room arrangement to prevent falls

Perhaps the simplest preventative measure the nursing home can take is to train the staff to check on your loved one for bathroom needs and other circumstances that may compel your parent to try to get out of the chair alone. Staff can also encourage your loved one to call for help when necessary and then respond to your parent's calls in a timely manner. A staff that provides quality care should never physically or medically restrain your loved one to prevent falls.

Learning that your parent has fallen may cause you to question the care he or she is receiving in the nursing home. If you have concerns that the staff does not seem willing to address, your next step may be seeking legal advice.

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