In June 2011, the Care Inspectorate and NHS Scotland issued Managing Falls and Fractures in Care Homes for Older People resource (including a falls awareness DVD) to all care homes for older people in Scotland.

The resource aimed to help managers and staff to consider falls prevention and management in their care home and, where necessary, improve their approach to falls prevention and management.

A recent evaluation of the resource told us that where care homes have used the resource as intended, for example, carrying out the self-assessment then developing and implementing an improvement plan with the local health and social care team, the home achieved significant reductions in falls.  The evaluation also highlighted that many care homes felt they did not have time or local support to use the resource in this way. 

Care homes can help reduce falls and harm from falls in a number of ways.  There are a growing number of examples of improvements care home staff have made that have had a significant impact on the quality of care for older people at risk of falling.  For this reason, we have been exploring how to support care home managers and staff to use the resource to make the necessary improvements. 

As a result, the National Falls Programme, with sponsorship from the Scottish Government, is working with care homes for older people, and health and social care staff in three areas of Scotland to tackle the problem of falls: North Highland, Dumfries and Galloway and West Dunbartonshire.  A National Project Team will take this work forward along with local Project Falls Leads in the three partnership areas involved.

1. Which care homes can participate?

The invitation to participate in the project is open to care homes for older people of any size and from any sector.  Participating care homes must have a care home manager who is enthusiastic and motivated, keen to make improvements in falls prevention and management and committed to completing the project.  This includes establishing a care home improvement team, collecting data, carrying out the self-assessment and completing action plans, supporting staff to attend learning events and working in partnership with the wider health and social care team.  Finally, parent organisations of participating care homes must also be committed to making improvements identified.  The intention is that, where possible, up to 15 care homes for older people will be involved in the project in each partnership area.

2. What does the project involve?

There is a Project Falls Lead in each area.  They will work two days a week with participating homes.  This is a local person with knowledge and experience of falls prevention and management.  The Project Falls Lead will work alongside care home managers and staff, in participating care homes, to use the care home resource pack to help improve care.

This includes:

• Finding out about the number of falls currently in care homes.

• Completing the self-assessment which helps to identify things care homes are already doing to prevent and manage falls and things they could begin to do, improve on or do differently.

• Creating an action plan to address some of the ‘gaps’ identified, to make the improvements required.

Care homes will be asked to identify an ‘improvement team’ within the care home which will lead and champion the improvement efforts in the care home. The National Project Team and the local Project Falls Leads will work with care home improvement teams to explore how best to use information about falls and make decisions on how to prioritise improvement work. 

As part of the project there will also be two learning sessions’ in local areas. Improvement teams from participating care homes will be expected to attend these events. At these sessions there will be an opportunity to learn more about falls prevention and how to improve care effectively using tried and tested methods. There will also be an opportunity to link with other care home staff from local areas and learn from each other about what is working well, and what the challenges may be.

3. How will local care homes be selected?

All care homes for older people, across all sectors will have the opportunity to respond positively to an invite to be involved in the three areas involved in the project.  The local Project Falls Leads will select up to 15 care homes in each area, using criteria as indicated in point 1. 

4. When does the project start and how long will it last?

The project will begin in January 2014.  The first learning session will take place early 2014.  The project will run for eight months.

Please get in touch if you would like to find out more information.  Scottish Care, the CCPS and the local authority in the local areas are aware that this is taking place.

Edith Macintosh  

Rehabilitation Consultant  

Care Inspectorate                                                             

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