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Preventing slips, trips and falls at home

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Posted on 1st October 2021.

We believe that everyone has the right to feel safe and comfortable in their own home – whether they’re receiving care or not. Falls at home can cause serious injury, particularly amongst the elderly, but can often be overlooked: according to the NHS, one in three adults over the age of 65 who live at home will have at least one fall a year.

During the cooler months, slips, trips and falls are more likely to occur due to factors such as wet and icy surfaces, and the cold affecting someone’s mobility. Whilst visiting family over the coming months, or during Christmas get togethers, it may be worth bearing in mind the potential risk factors that can affect your loved one’s safety. Preventing slips, trips and falls in the home can be made easier by being aware of several environmental and health-related hazards.

An elderly lady after a fall

Things to look out for…

Around the house

Loose rugs, uneven or slippery surfaces, poor lighting, trailing wires, chairs and beds that are too high or too low down, lots of clutter, lack of safety rails, and even pets all pose potential hazards.

If your loved one finds it difficult to stand up or sit down, then it’s worth contacting the Occupational Therapist to assess as this can easily be resolved with the correct equipment, e.g. bed/chair raisers.

If there are pets in the house, they could be shut in a different room whilst your loved one is mobilising to stop them getting under their feet.

Are your loved one’s clothes comfortable and well-fitting? Shoes that offer little support or grip can be a risk factor.

Health conditions
Conditions that affect mobility like osteoporosis and Parkinson’s disease, poor vision, auditory impairment, continence problems, UTIs, dizziness, cognitive impairment, and certain medications can affect the risk of falling.

Behaviours like getting up in the middle of the night, consuming excess amounts of alcohol, over stretching or reaching, and rushing to answer the telephone or door can increase susceptibility to falls.

What can I do to support my loved one?

For an older person or an individual with a particular health condition, the consequences of a fall can be life-changing. Physical discomfort and pain, long-term disability, decreased mobility, loss of confidence and fear of falling again can all have an enormous impact on someone’s life – but by reducing risks, they can be prevented.

As a family member, you can check your loved one’s home environment is free from obstacles and that furniture, rugs and wires don’t obstruct routes from room to room, particularly those that may be trodden in the dark – like the hallway between the bedroom and the bathroom, for example. Small, simple changes and adaptations can make the world of difference.

You can also help your loved one to prevent or treat osteoporosis by helping them plan meals rich in calcium and vitamin D, which are essential for healthy bones. Regular, gentle exercise is also fundamental – you could go out for a family walk, go swimming, or find a local dancing class to attend together.

Full support with homecare from Helping Hands

Full support with homecare from Helping Hands

With live-in care from Helping Hands, your loved one will receive support with mobility, medication, personal care and companionship, enabling them to feel confident to remain living at home for as long as possible.

Our Senior Compliance Manager explains how Helping Hands prioritises customer safety throughout the duration of the care package: “During initial assessment, history of falls is taken into account, and we are able to work alongside falls prevention clinics to ensure all needs are met. Care managers report any falls or near misses to our Compliance team who will provide advice on action to be taken to prevent it from happening again. Care managers are able to use our reporting systems to monitor these incidents and highlight any concerns to family and Healthcare Professionals.”

Julie Mills, Helping Hands’ Training Manager, explains how our training prepares carers to support individuals at risk of falls: “We cover slips trips and falls during risk assessment, discussing clutter, wires, cables, etc. which could present hazards, as well as tight spaces. We also discuss footwear and the importance of having enclosed and supportive shoes for both the carer and the customer when walking. During Moving and Handling, we teach techniques to support a customer to walk and transfer safely.”

Not everyone needs full-time care from a live-in carer – your loved one might need support at certain times of the day or week with grocery shopping, housekeeping, preparing meals or getting washed and dressed in the morning. Helping Hands also provides an hourly visiting care service in locations across the country, meaning that we are able to offer your loved one a bespoke level of care that meets their daily living needs whilst enabling them to retain the independence that comes from living at home.

If you’re planning on going away during the cooler months, perhaps a Christmas break, you can do so with peace of mind. Our Respite Care service can support your family with live-in homecare for your loved one from as little as three days to as long as four weeks.

Are you ready to learn more? Click the links to download our free guide Respite Care.

Alice Clough Campaign & Content Executive
About Alice joined the Helping Hands team in January 2021. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Film Studies and writes for her own blog. Read Alice's full profile