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April Falls Awareness Month - prevention key


April 22, 2013

April Falls Awareness Month - prevention key to keeping people well

Falls prevention remains a key focus for the Canterbury Health System, not only during a patient’s stay in hospital but for when they’re at home too.

April has been Falls Awareness month both here in Canterbury and across New Zealand.

Ken Stewart, Canterbury DHB falls prevention clinical lead says the Canterbury Health System’s approach to falls puts the person at the centre with every falls prevention plan being unique.

“Falls plans are tailored to that person’s needs and involves them, their families and those responsible for their care.” Ken says.

The Canterbury Health System’s hospital and community falls prevention programmes are designed to keep people safe in their own homes, in the community and during a hospital stay.

“We keep people safe and try to reduce their risk of falling in their homes by having local community falls champions working alongside their General Practice team.

“Falls champions provide a free falls prevention home hazard check and strength and balance exercises in people’s homes over a six to 12 month period,” Ken says.

This approach has led to a significant reduction in the number of elderly people presenting to our hospitals after a fall in the last year.

“We currently have about 40 falls-related visits to the Christchurch emergency department by people over the age of 75 each week.

“We also know that elderly people who are admitted to hospital are at greater risk of having a fall, which may mean they have to spend longer in hospital or go into aged residential care rather than return to their own homes.

“This is why falls prevention is a key patient safety priority in our hospitals as well as in our wider community.”

Ken says the findings from a study of the 233 falls at The Princess Margaret Hospital in Christchurch during 2012 reinforced the need to pay close attention to the specific falls risk for each elderly patient while they are in our care.

In addition to addressing patient-specific factors, falls prevention in our hospitals is focusing on the following key elements for each patient:

1. asking patients if they have had a fall at home over the past year
2. assessing a patients’ risk of falling in hospital
3. putting specific falls prevention strategies in place to prevent a fall in hospital
4. talking about these strategies with patients and their families
5. putting a falls prevention plan in place for when patients are able to return home.

Further information about April Falls can be found at


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