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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Fewer hospital falls at OUH


Quality improvements introduced by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have resulted in 500 fewer patients who have experienced a fall in the past year compared to 2017/18.

From April 2018 to March 2019, 2,018 inpatients suffered a fall in total across the Trust's four hospitals, a reduction from 2,518 incidents compared to year 2017/18. This is a significant improvement on 2014, when 2,740 patients fell in the calendar year.

Sam Foster, Chief Nursing Officer at the Trust, said: "Patient safety is our number one priority at the Trust. We are committed to reducing the risk to prevent patient falls and resultant harm, and to improve patient care post-fall.

"We are constantly looking at ways to prevent hospital falls, and encourage our multidisciplinary teams to take a proactive approach to preventing slips, trips, and falls.

"We're very happy with the reduction in the amount of patient falls across our hospitals in 2017/18, in addition to the significant reduction since 2014.

"However, we will continue working hard to keep reducing the number of incidents - and the level of harm to patients who do fall - even further."

Falls prevention measures in place at the Trust include the adoption of the NHS FallSafe project, a national campaign that aims to reduce the risk of falling and to minimise any harm to a patient if they do. An informative educational video has been produced, and practical skills workshops for staff are held throughout the year.

There are dozens of 'Falls Champions' who help educate their teams, highlight risks specific to their department or ward, and promote the prevention of falls to other members of staff, patients, and visitors.

The Trust also recently launched the 'Low Before You Go' campaign which aims to prevent falls and harm by asking staff and visitors to keep the bed at the right height for the patient.

Fully committed to reducing the number of falls even further, the Trust is putting more measures in place to maintain this level of improvement.

This includes more E-Learning opportunities for staff, and more fall prevention equipment such as manual stethoscopes and floor protection mats being introduced to the wards.

'Reducing boredom' boxes will be introduced to wards with more long-stay patients. Each box contains a variety of activities, including adult colouring books, word search books, board games, pens, pencils, and playing cards, designed to tackle patients' boredom and assist staff with interaction when enhanced supervision is required.

The Yellow Falls Project, which uses yellow socks and blankets to highlight patients who are more prone to falling over, is being trialled at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre.

For the first time, Falls Prevention Week (23-27 September 2019), a Trust-led awareness week, will raise awareness of the importance of fall prevention measures to staff, patients, and visitors.

Aimee Petrie, Falls Prevention Practice Educator at the Trust, said: "Anyone, of any age, could fall over and hurt themselves which can have an effect on both physical and mental health.

"In my role as Falls Prevention Practice Educator, it's really important for me to help staff understand how small interventions can make a big difference to patients when it comes to fall prevention care planning.

"It is amazing to have the opportunity to work across all four of our hospital sites with dedicated colleagues who want to make an impact.

"Using the FallSafe methodology has made significant changes to reduce the risk of our patients falling. Collaboration with both internal and external colleagues provides not only enhanced knowledge and support, but reinforces the message that falls prevention is everyone's business."

The key to keeping patients safe is raising awareness and training our workforce to understand the risks of patient falls, and Aimee works with staff across wards and clinical areas to achieve this.

For any information about the risk of patient falls, and for support and advice, please contact Aimee on