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New initiative is introduced to help reduce patient falls in hospital

Wednesday, 27 February, 2019
New initiative is introduced to help reduce patient falls in hospital

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has developed a new initiative which helps patients avoid falls whilst in hospital.

AFLOAT (Avoiding Falls Level of Observation Tool) is a new process put in place by the trust which helps hospital staff assess how often a patient will need to be observed to avoid potential falls during their stay in hospital. This new tool has four ‘levels’ of varying degrees of intensity: two hourly (least intense), hourly, line of sight and arms reach (most intense).

Dr David Richardson, consultant geriatrician and clinical lead for falls at the trust, said: “When a patient falls it’s not just the immediate physical harm that can be the issue – the loss of confidence and independence which often goes alongside it can be just as damaging.  Not all falls are preventable, but this new tool enables staff to assess patients’ risk and set the correct observation level.”

Following input from frontline nursing staff the team decided to create their own system and guidelines in the absence of national rules on assessing falls risk. It is linked to the national ‘bay watch’ initiative for observing patients at risk of falling.

David said: “We take the views of our frontline staff extremely seriously and this system is a direct result of their experiences. Not only does this new process help improve the safety of our patients, but it also means we are not ‘over observing’; affording as much privacy as we (safely) can.

“For example, if a patient is capable of going to the toilet on their own safely, then we need to make sure we allow them to do that.  With this system we can offer much greater flexibility without compromising on the care we give; something that benefits patients and staff alike.”

The AFLOAT scheme has been rolled out across the trust since December 2018 and has helped 85% of nurses to use the correct level of observation; up from 65% when using clinical judgement alone.

Media contact:

Elliot Nichols – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

0191 203 1512 / 07966 490736