Fall Prevention Tips

Fall Prevention Tips to Help Reduce Readmission Rates

We’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that skilled nursing facilities need to prepare for the shift to the Skilled Nursing Facility Value-Based Payment Program (SNFVBP), in which providers will need to focus on the quality of the care given over the quantity of services administered. In this model, improving overall quality of life for residents is key above all else.

When seniors return home after receiving long- or short-term rehabilitation in your skilled nursing facility, the goal is to ensure they are as independent as they were before their stay and ready to get back to the lifestyle they’re accustomed to. If they’ve been properly rehabilitated through physical, occupational, and/or speech therapies, they should be healthy, strong and confident to return home. Plus, as one of the key performance indicators in the SNFVBP program is to reduce the number of unplanned readmissions into your facility, it’s more important than ever that you take the proper steps in rehabilitating your residents.

Preventing Senior Falls: Why It’s So Vital

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), falls are the number one reason for injury among the elderly. In fact, one out of three adults age 65 or older falls each year, leading to injuries like hip, wrist, or ankle fractures, lacerations or head trauma. For a senior, these types of injuries can lead to a long recovery period and a loss of independence – sometimes a permanent loss.

What’s worse, seniors who suffer from one fall are three times more likely to fall again. This can mean another stay in a hospital, followed by readmission to your skilled nursing facility. While a planned readmission is not a measure of quality as part of the SNFVBP, an unplanned readmission can hurt your quality scores.

Senior Fall Prevention Tips

Of course, accidents can happen at any time, but preventing future falls in the elderly is possible with some proper precautions and education. Seniors fall for a variety of reasons: walking down an icy driveway to get to the mailbox, for example, or a foot slipping off a curb. Or, perhaps they have mobility or balance problems due to muscle loss or medications. Maybe they are recovering from a recent stroke or illness. Knowing the reason why a senior fell in the first place is the first step to avoiding a future fall.

Once you know the reason for the resident’s fall and subsequent stay in your skilled nursing facility, here are a few fall prevention tips to share to help reduce the chance that he or she will be readmitted at a later time:

Encourage healthy living

Seniors should incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity into their daily routines to keep muscles limber and bones strong. There are plenty of exercises for seniors that can help improve mobility, balance and muscle strength, and the stronger the senior is, the less likely he or she will suffer from a future fall. Also, a healthy diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D can help improve bone strength.

Maintain regular doctor appointments

Seniors should get their eyesight and hearing checked at least once each year and should take note if they are experiencing any change in their vision or hearing. Not being able to see objects blocking their path could easily cause them to lose their balance and suffer a debilitating fall.

Learn medication side effects

It’s common for many older adults to be on a variety of medications. Because some of these medications may have side effects that affect balance, seniors should be encouraged to talk to a doctor or pharmacist to be as informed about their medications as possible.

Safeguard the home

Upon returning home, seniors and/or their caregivers should note possible hazards that could cause a fall, like throw rugs, loose cords or doorway thresholds. Homes should be kept as clear of clutter as possible, be well-lit and have sturdy railings on any stairways. Also, seniors should wear proper footwear with non-skid soles, and avoid walking around in floppy slippers or stockinged feet at home.

Set up an emergency plan

If the senior lives alone, a plan should be in place should an emergency arise. For example, encourage them to keep a cell phone or cordless phone nearby at all times. Or, have them schedule check-ins with a family member or friend so someone can be alerted if the daily call is missed.

Skilled Nursing Solutions from MatrixCare

With the impending transition to the SNFVBP program, MatrixCare’s Skilled Nursing Solution provides your facility with the tools and data you need to succeed. Our intuitive solution improves workflow so users can focus more time on resident care. Plus, it provides the ability to track resident information upon admission and discharge to further improve care and reduce readmission rates. Contact us today to learn more.

Kevin Whitehurst

Kevin Keith Whitehurst, Senior Vice President, Skilled Nursing Solutions, has been a key player in LTPAC technology since 1990. Whitehurst has held many leadership positions including IT Director for one of the first developers of MDS software systems to, most recently, SVP, Client Services for MatrixCare. In his current role, he is responsible for the success of the Skilled Nursing Solutions Group and oversees Product Management, Professional Services, Sales and Marketing, and Client Support for that group. A 26 year veteran, Whitehurst has dedicated his career to improving Skilled Nursing Providers experience with technology. Whitehurst holds degrees from San Bernardino Valley College and the Los Angeles School of Business and also served in the U.S Air Force.