Adult children of senior parents often trust the care and attention of their elderly loved ones to a nursing home staff. Unfortunately, many factors contribute to a dangerous environment for those struggling with mobility issues or cognitive impairment. At this delicate age, a nursing home fall for an elderly resident can often mean broken bones and other devastating injuries.
While the facility pays much attention to the training of a nursing home staff and maintaining the safety of the facility itself, a recent study has revealed a 17.5% increase in the rates of falls in long-term care since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, the instance of pressure ulcer rates, also known as bed sores, has increased by 41.8% during the same period. While the study points to many issues such as staffing, limited exposure and overworked healthcare professionals, this is of little comfort to the elderly nursing home residents or their families.
Fall accidents can result from several factors, including:
- Broken safety equipment
- Poor training
- Inadequate staffing
- Failure to monitor heavily medicated patients
- Dispensing the wrong medications
- Lack of walking assistance
- Inappropriate use of restraints
Any of these factors can contribute to a serious fall resulting in broken bones, multiple lacerations, head trauma, hip injuries, tendon damage and spinal cord damage.
What can be done?
As the immense strain on various healthcare systems across the state shows signs of lessening to pre-pandemic levels, it is still a long path to success. The facility must increase awareness among its staff. From training materials to safety resources, the staff must protect elderly residents from injury.
Nursing homes need to take steps to prevent fall injuries. Many accidents result from missing or broken safety rails, overmedication, lack of supervision and failure to provide assistive devices such as walkers. For a senior, fall injuries can cause broken hips, head injuries and other trauma that can result in a downward spiral in the patient’s health. The nursing home staff must remain vigilant in preventing these devastating accidents. Further, patients and loved ones must speak up immediately when they notice a facility taking dangerous shortcuts in care.