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Occupational Therapist highlights role for national Falls Awareness Week

17 September 2021

  • Quality and safety
  • Furness General Hospital

Olivia Gell Specialist OT in Community UHMBT.jpgThe role of the Occupational Therapist in Falls Prevention by Olivia Gell, Specialist Occupational Therapist​, Medical Wards, Royal Lancaster Infirmary. This is special feature as part of national Falls Awareness Week - #ThinkFalls - which is taking place from Monday 20 September to Friday 24 September.

Our aim is always to minimise the impact of the effect of the fall on the patient’s health and wellbeing, and to reduce the risk of further falls and hospital readmissions.

When a fall happens the Multi-disciplinary Team (MDT) works to explore the potential causes of the fall, any history of falls and how the patient can be supported to minimise risk of further falls. For example, medical cause, medication effects, diagnosis, poor oral intake, feet/eyesight/hearing, confusion, pain/injury, long term condition or fatigue.

Falls assessment

A face-to-face assessment is completed on the ward detailing the patient's current level of mobility and function. Interventions and follow-ups are completed to optimise functional activity and safety, adopting a positive approach to risk. Walking aids are issued on the ward as required.

Falls advice

  • Discuss appropriate footwear and suggest regular chiropodist appointments.
  • Suggest regular eyesight and hearing checks.
  • Suggest regular medication reviews from GP.
  • Advice on improved oral intake and the importance of hydration, this often then includes support with continence management.
  • Information booklets are provided.

Keeping safe at home: reducing risk of falls

  • Gather social history and discuss environmental factors such as lighting, rugs and other trip hazards.
  • Falls Plan - talk through with patients what they would do in the event of a fall and how to help themselves to get back up, and importantly how to seek help if unable to get back up.
  • Assistive devices can be provided as part of a home hazard assessment, including support with visual impairment.
  • Assessments for provision of falls alarms and formal care packages.

Keeping active: reducing fear of falling

Importantly, we can offer support and strategies to help manage and improve levels of confidence and anxiety following a fall.

Fear of falling often restricts and influences engagement in activity of daily living. Through individualised intervention plans, support can be given to minimise risk of falls when carrying out different activities.

  • Advice on improved levels of mobility and balance.
  • Promote increased activity and reduced sedentary behaviour and the benefits this has on holistic health.
  • Onward referrals are also made to community therapy teams and into local Falls Groups.