Residential Aged Care Communiqué Volume 17 Issue 1 February 2022
Download PDF: RAC Communiqué February 2022
In this edition
Case: Is this preventable?
Case: The last fall
Commentary: Tips to reduce risk of falls
Commentary: Fall prevention: an ongoing need
List of Resources
Welcome to our first issue of 2022. This edition focuses on falls and falls management, a topic that strikes fear in all staff, residents and families as the adverse consequences are often so profound. At times many of us entertain the notion that falls are inevitable, especially when every year, over half of all residents will have a fall. We also question the value of falls management and wonder why we pursue what appears to be futile attempt to prevent the inevitable.
It’s important to pause and think why we have those perceptions and to remind ourselves that these notions are in fact wrong and unhelpful. First, this is a common aspect of any preventive strategy—when we are successful at stopping an incident there is nothing to see, and so we think nothing has been achieved. Consider for example, the seatbelt stopping us flying through a windscreen in a car crash, the pool fence that stops a child from drowning, the vaccine that stops an infection from becoming severe, a walking aid that stops a fall. We do not actually see anything; we also don’t remember because nothing happened, and we don’t think about why life goes on as usual.
Contrast that to times when something awful happens, a resident fall striking their head, there is a pool of blood on the floor, panic about how this could happen, the fear about who will explain to the family, the tears and sadness when the person dies. Those unpleasant and heightened emotions burn that memory into our brain. We review the falls management strategy and often, find we had put in place multiple interventions. Our memory of this incident is reinforced by similar past occasions of falls with awful outcomes. Unfortunately, our memory does a very poor job of recalling the many, many other times a person was walking and did not fall—because that’s unremarkable. And so, we draw our erroneous conclusions.
The two cases we present highlight the grave consequences of a fall, and our expert commentaries are written by Professor Jacqueline Close and Professor Keith Hill, two of Australia’s leading international experts in the subject of falls and fall management. Pay close attention to their comments explaining that falls are preventable and the interventions available to achieve this are well within our capabilities.