This week at Brightwater we’re holding our first Falls Awareness Week. This week celebrates the amazing work our staff do, working together with our clients, to reduce their risk of falls.
We assist our clients, across aged care and disability, whether that is residential or in the community, to pursue the dignity of independence with our support. It’s about empowering our clients to have the confidence to walk from their bed to the bathroom independently, or make a cup of tea in their kitchen, or simply get up and move.
We spoke to Genevieve Carr, a Physiotherapist at Brightwater The Cove to give us an insight into how she and her team work with aged care residents to reduce their risk of falling and how you can implement simple strategies at home.
“I have worked as a physio at The Cove since 2005, six weeks after The Cove opened its doors. I’ve also worked at South Lake and over the years I’ve done some casual work at The Oaks,” she said
“Falls have great potential to restrict someone’s health and mobility, and can be a major cause of morbidity in elderly clients.”
Managing a person’s risk of falling is so important and involves many different factors. Staff think about equipment requirements, and how they can manage their client’s risk, but it’s also about making sure they still feel as independent as possible. Fear of falling can also impact someone’s confidence too.
“We do our best to keep people on their feet. I’ve run established rehab programs with residents and we also do group exercises.”
Building strength, mobility and maintaining balance are really important aspects to reduce falls.
“It’s all about enabling people to be independent, that's the goal - to try and keep them on their feet and keep them strong, so that they can do as much for themselves as possible. And it’s about building their confidence,”
“A simple strategy can make a huge difference.”
Genevieve said that there are many different strategies to reduce the risk of falls.
- Look at footwear – if someone has loose floppy footwear or sandals that are ill fitting, we help them find some more suitable footwear. Footwear needs to have a good surface underneath and a rigid toe so that it’s less likely to trip or catch.
- Look at the environment and clear away excess clutter. Sometimes it’s about finding a better way to rearrange the room so there’s better access. You might also need to consider what sort of furniture you have, for example, if you’re in a really low or a really high chair that can make it difficult to get in and out of and can make someone prone to falls.
- If someone is unsteady on their feet, you might need to give them a walking aid – that can go a long way.
There are also some simple changes you can make around the house that you might not think of.
- I recommend to people to make sure they are on the do not call register, so they're not getting those nuisance phone calls. It's those unexpected calls, when people get up too quickly and try to rush to answer the phone. So make sure you're not getting any of the unwanted telemarketer calls because your instinct is to try and get to the phone.
Genevieve said The Cove have implemented their Falls Huddle, in which a group of staff from different professions get together to discuss falls and develop prevention strategies.
“It is a good thing to be able to brainstorm in a group because the reality is it's not just about physiotherapy. Perhaps it’s about medication - if someone is on medication for high blood pressure, and they've been taken as they were prescribed two or three years ago it might now be too strong. It could be lowering your blood pressure further and that could be making you prone to falls.”
Brightwater has a team of skilled Allied Health and Clinical professionals who work with our clients to build and maintain their strength and reduce their risk of falling.