South Tipperary General Hospital has launched an initiative aimed at reducing the risks to patients susceptible to falls, both at home and while in hospital.
Everyone can be at risk of falling but an older person is at an increased risk of falling and suffering serious injuries as a consequence, compared to any other age group.
Termed Operation Safety Orange and organised by the Clonmel hospital’s multidisciplinary falls steering group, it was launched in the hospital last week. A series of patient leaflets are available within the hospital and for issue to those being admitted and their families or carers, emphasising some practical advice.
The literature and its advertising will complement a system already in place at the hospital, whereby patients who have had a fall or may be at a high risk of falling are identified to healthcare staff. This initiative will involve the use of the colour orange, an orange triangle symbol or an orange wrist band to assist all staff to identify patients at risk of falls, ensuring that they are monitored when away from their bedside.
The hospital’s general manager Grace Rothwell said “Patient welfare is a priority for us here in the hospital and we are justifiably proud of the safe and caring environment in which our dedicated staff serve those with us in both an inpatient and outpatient capacity.
We’re aware that Ireland’s population is ageing, that over 10% of them are aged 65 years or over and that such a ratio is increasing. The risk of falling increases with age. Statistics show that one in three older people falls every year and two thirds of them fall again within six months. Our multidisciplinary falls steering group here are aware that falls can be predicted and prevented and that message can be applied at home, in the community and in the inpatient setting at the hospital.”
The hospital’s physiotherapy manager Barbara Long said “Identifying people at risk of falls is important in helping us to implement effective intervention and reduce the incidence of future falls. We are keen to take every opportunity to advise people on how they can support themselves. Our leaflet, for instance, conveys the message that someone can ‘put their safest foot forward’, including when coming in for a hospital stay. For instance, when selecting footwear, the ideal shoe will reduce the risk of falls at home and so also the risk of injury and hospitalisation.”