When an elderly person falls, the results can be devastating, with potentially life-changing consequences. Disability, loss of independence and a gradual decline can follow.
That’s why, in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK), we want to stop people suffering falls wherever possible. Our falls prevention programme is made up of a number of different initiatives designed to keep people safe from falling, no matter where they live – in their own home or residential care. We want to not only reduce falls, but also the harm caused by them.
We also know it’s not easy to safely get people back on their feet when they do have a fall, and that care home residents are three times more likely to fall than frail elderly people living in their own home. So we’ve introduced a new way for care homes to lift their residents without the need to call an ambulance.
You can read more about these important developments below.
Preventing falls in care homes
Acoustic Monitoring uses technology to check on residents more often at night without invading their privacy. The system works out whether sounds and movements made by the resident are normal – if not, it raises an alarm to alert the home’s staff. The device, which works by using Wi-Fi, can recognise sounds such as the person waking up, crying out, calling for help or being restless.
Staff don’t need to check on people as often, resulting in residents having fewer disturbances and a better night’s sleep. What’s more, the always-on device can alert staff to possible problems at any time, meaning a resident who needs help doesn’t have to wait until the next planned visit and is also less likely to have a fall.
The system, which is used only with the consent of the resident involved, also provides extra reassurance for family members and friends about the safety of their loved one.
Felicity Cox, Chief Executive of NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board has recorded a series of podcasts, including a conversation on the increasing development of digital innovations in healthcare, such as Acoustic Monitoring. You can listen to all podcasts on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
Find out how Burlington Hall care home and its residents are benefiting from the innovations available through the Digitising Social Care programme, including Acoustic Monitoring.
What residents say:
“I think the system is good because I know that staff can check on me in the night without waking me up. In the past, when checking on me the light would be turned on. I would struggle to get back to sleep after this, so I think this is much better.” – AC, resident at Burlington Hall Care Home
What our care services say:
“Acoustic monitoring has been a great help in ensuring the safety of the residents without disrupting their usual sleeping patterns. It is easy to use and reduces the likelihood of resident falls during the night”- MK, Night Manager at Burlington Hall Care Home
Emergency chairs to lift people when they fall
The Raizer II is an emergency chair that’s put together around a person to lift them from the floor after a fall in which they have not been injured.
A single member of staff can get a care home resident back on their feet quickly and safely using the chair – all with little or no physical effort.
It means there’s no need to call an ambulance, or for the resident to stay on the floor while they wait for an ambulance to arrive. What’s more, the fast return to normality means they can avoid any possible health issues lying on the floor for a long time might cause, so are less likely to need a hospital stay.
For care homes, not only does the chair mean they can improve the care they’re able to provide, the single-person operation means they can also save time and money as other staff can continue caring for the other residents.
Find out how Burlington Hall care home and its residents are benefiting from the innovations available through the Digitising Social Care programme, including Raizer II.
What residents say:
“The staff members have used the Raizer Chair previously to help me after I unfortunately had a fall. I think it is very good to have in the home as for me, it is not always as easy to get up a fall as it has been in the past.” – JG, resident at Burlington Hall Care Home for over eight years
What our care services say:
“We couldn’t live without the Raizer Chair now – it’s amazing.” – Fay Gooch, Home Manager, Oak Manor Care Home, Bedfordshire
“The Raizer Chair is easy to use and kind to the person who is being assisted by it. Possibly the best piece of equipment to come into the care sector for years.” – Dawn McGuire, Registered Manager, Chase House Residential Nursing Care Home, Bedfordshire
124 care homes in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes use the Raizer Chair (as of July 2023)
Individual assessments of gait to improve balance and stability
Using wireless sensors, Gaitsmart records an individual’s movements over 10 to 15 steps. In minutes, the system compares the readings to ‘healthy’ gait profiles and produces a report suggesting six exercises that can address strength, stability or balance issues.
The test takes 10 minutes, can be carried out virtually anywhere, and is suitable for people using walking aids. Repeating the tests over a period of time can monitor changes in gait and effectiveness of treatment. One of the Gaitsmart pilot sites is at a care home. Residents in Discharge to Assess beds will be offered assessment. The assessment will be completed by care home staff following training.
Research looks for clues to stop people falling
As part of our falls prevention programme, we’re giving people who live in BLMK the chance to take part in a research study aimed at helping people live safer, healthier lives at home for longer.
In the UK, around a third of people aged 65 and over fall at least once a year. The Smplicare study is looking at how to predict the likelihood of people having a fall, and could lead to the creation of software that could help prevent others having falls in future.
Everyone who takes part will be given a free smartwatch or fitness band and a set of smart scales. Participants will be able to keep this research kit at the end of the study.
To have a chance of being chosen to be part of this exciting project, you must meet the following requirements:
- be over 55
- have a history of falls
- use a smartphone
You can find out more about what we’re doing by clicking on each of the links below. For more information on the programme, or any of our projects, please email the team.