Blue Sky Therapy Blog

No Falls A Day Keeps the 5-Star Ratings Here to Stay!

by Renee Halfhill, LPT, CEO & President of BlueSky Therapy

Falls are extremely common in skilled nursing facilities. The average rate of falls is 2.6 falls/resident in a given year. Falls often have serious consequences, especially in frail older residents. Fall-related injuries decrease the resident’s quality of life and ability to function.

Falls are a major safety concern for skilled nursing facilities both from a legal perspective and also when it comes to quality measures and your star rating. Skilled Nursing Facilities QRP data will be publicly reported on the NH Compare Quality Measure: Application of Percent of Residents Experiencing One or More Falls with Major Injury (NQF #0674).

If the resident had one or more falls with a major injury on one or more of the look-back scan assessments, it will trigger the measure. Fall history is obtained with a look-back of up to six months prior to admission. By triggering this measure, a facility’s Quality Measure rating can take a hit and a decrease in star rating can occur.

While not all falls and injuries can be prevented, it is critical to have a systematic process of assessment, intervention and monitoring that results in minimizing fall risk.

Common Reasons for Falls Among Residents in a Nursing Home:
  • Muscle weakness or balance problems

  • Arthritis

  • Incontinence

  • Stroke

  • Vision change/loss

  • Loss of sensation in the feet

  • Inactivity

  • Medication side effects/interactions

  • Environmental hazards (trip hazards)

  • Incorrect size, type, use of assistive device (walker, cane)

How Blue Sky Therapists Help Prevent Falls in SNFs Through the BalanceStrong Program:
  • Therapists screen residents after every file to determine if the resident requires rehabilitation to address strengthening, balance, and safety awareness and/or to provide input to support the nursing care plan.
  • Quarterly screens conducted by therapists identify deficits or decline in strength, balance, gait patterns, safety/cognitive status so that rehabilitation services can be provided as appropriate to reduce fall risk.
  • Therapists are trained to thoroughly assess the resident and determine if loss of balance issues are related to one of the following factors: environmental, cognitive impairment/decreased safety awareness, multi-sensory, center of gravity control, vestibular, or postural control (or any of the above).
  • Therapists developed individualized plans of care that includes interventions to address the identified deficit’s and reasons for the fall and then they provide enhanced recommendations to nursing and caregivers for post discharge follow up/care planning.
  • Speech Therapists are qualified to perform cognitive staging assessments to determine resident’s ability to learn and follow safety protocols that prevent falls and otherwise provided recommendation to nursing/caregivers regarding environmental adaptations, visual reminders, verbal prompts, physical cues and structuring meaningful activities to occupy the resident and reduce the risk of wondering/falls.

These are just a few of the ways therapists can help reduce falls through Blue Sky’s BalanceStrong program. Also, Blue Sky provides Fall Prevention Training for SNF nursing staff including education related to prevention of falls, proper transfer techniques, room set-up issues, assistive device use, personal needs, etc.

Contact Blue Sky Today to learn more about how our cutting-edge BalanceStrong Program can help reduce falls in your facility, educate your nursing staff on preventing falls, and improve your Falls Quality Measure.

Skilled Nursing Facilities 5 Star Quality Documentation falls fall risk fall prevention

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