Jeanette Scott-Thomas, Yitka Graham, Marie Barrigan, Catherine Hayes
Journal of Paramedic Practice, Vol. 9, Iss. 11, 03 Nov 2017, pp 476 - 482

The aim of the current research was to review the first-line response to patient falls
in the independent care sector in North East England. The authors used an online
questionnaire via 'Survey Monkey' software package, and a convenience sample of
24 of 32 independent care sector homes from South Tyneside, representing a 75%
response rate. Policies and guidelines for falls were investigated and the findings
highlight the disparate responses to incidences in care-home settings. Despite 96%
having a policy on falls, only 80% included an assessment of possible injury or
harm and 13% included no direct guidance for staff when residents fall. The most
common action was to ring emergency services to move patients, even in the
absence of physical injury. There was considerable ambiguity around the assessment
of injuries and whose responsibility this was, particularly in falls with potentially
non-visible injuries. Ambiguity was also present in the management of falls, where
there was overlap between accident and falls policies. The current research highlights
the need for policy standardisation. There is a potential fiscal impact on emergency
ambulance services when they are contacted as the first-line response for falls
regardless of the occurrence of injury. This has implications on staff education and
the strategic planning of emergency ambulance services. Further consideration on the
suitability of falls policies is urgently required.

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