Care Home Fined £25,000 After Resident Falls Down Stairs

A Liverpool care home operator has been fined a total of £25,000 after a resident sustained serious injuries as a result of falling down a flight of stairs. Dorothy Carney suffered a head injury and lacerations to her legs after management at Bentley Care Home failed to act on feedback from CQC about a potentially unsafe staircase at an inspection just a week earlier.

Following the fall, Debbie Westhead, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector for the region stated that the accident was entirely avoidable and that the home had failed in their duty to provide safe care to its residents.

Falls are the most common cause of hospital admission amongst older people with over half of over 80s reporting a fall each year. Amongst care home residents, the risk is even higher, so it’s essential that you take every precaution to reduce the risk of falls and associated injuries within your service.

Below we detail 4 steps you can take today, to prevent falls amongst the people in your care.

Prevent Falls and Injuries

Although the high profile fall at Bentley Care Home was made worse due to the involvement of a staircase, even simple calls on level ground can cause serious injuries. Up to 20% of falls involving care home residents lead to a fracture and hospitalisation. In many cases, this leads to permanent disability and a reduction in independence for the resident as well as distress for staff and reputational damage for the home.

4 Steps to Reduce the Number of Falls in Your Care Home

  1. Risk assess living areas: Trips and slips are the most common causes of falls amongst older people. These often happen as a result of a cluttered and untidy living area so you must make sure that each service user’s personal space is risk assessed, that hazards such as loose rugs or trailing cables are minimised and that staff know to avoid unnecessary trip hazards.
  2. Request regular medication reviews: Most older people take multiple medications which can drastically increase the risk of falls. Diuretics, analgesics, anti-depressants and drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease are amongst the most high-risk items and are all used frequently in care homes. Ensuring that medication is reviewed regularly, particularly in those service users who have experienced at least one fall, can ensure that the benefits of each drug can be weighed against the increased falls risks it creates. Your staff should also be aware of any side-effects such as dizziness or slowed reactions which can occur after taking medication.
  3. Provide adequate lighting: Inadequate lighting in bedrooms, bathrooms and corridors increases the risk of trips and slips, especially at night. Consider providing brighter bulbs, night lights or use movement-activated lighting at nighttime to promote a safer environment.
  4. Assess footwear: Ill-fitting or inappropriate footwear also increases the risk of falls amongst your service users. Ideally, low, well-fitting, non-slip shoes or slippers should be worn and for those with swollen feet, shoes with adjustable Velcro straps are ideal.

Make sure your service users and care workers are kept safe – subscribe to Care Quality Matters for practical tips, advice and downloadable resources on health and safety in both care homes and domiciliary care settings.

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