Preventing falls, pressure injuries, and preventing and managing infections at NALHN
Preventing a fall
Anyone who comes to hospital faces the challenge of a new environment whilst not feeling their best. Being unwell in an unfamiliar place can mean a higher risk of falling. Staff are committed to keeping you safe and avoiding a fall, but there are things that you can do to prepare for coming to hospital, and then throughout your stay, reduce your risk of falling.
What can you do?
Bring these things to hospital:
- walking aid, glasses and hearing aid (include label with your details)
- comfortable clothing that is not too long or too loose
- comfortable well fitting, flat nonslip shoes or slippers.
During the hospital stay
Take the time to familiarise yourself with the surroundings. Get to know your bed controls and how to use the call bell. If you are unsure, ask staff for help. Keep the call bell, your glasses and walking aid in easy reach.
Getting up and walking around
During a hospital stay it is common to need assistance or supervision when getting out of bed and walking. If staff have recommended this or you feel unsure, please ask and wait until staff come to help you. Some areas may require a physiotherapy assessment prior to you getting up.
When getting up or walking
- use walking aids for balance, rather than the furniture or walls
- wear comfortable well fitting, flat, non-slip shoes or slippers
- wear your distance glasses. If you wear bifocals or multifocals, take extra care
- watch for spills or objects in the way, and tell staff about them
- let staff know if you feel unsteady.
- drink plenty of fluid such as water (if allowed)
- take your time to slowly get up from lying to sitting, and then sitting to standing
- keep your feet moving while you are sitting (if allowed)
- stay sitting out of bed to let your body to get used to being upright (if allowed)
- if you spend long periods of time in bed, raise the headrest to keep you in a more seated position rather than lay flat (if allowed). Contact your nurse/midwife if you require assistance.
If you do have a fall, keep calm and call for help.
Preventing pressure injuries
Pressure injuries are also called bed sores and pressure ulcers. They can happen very quickly if you are unwell or not able to move easily. Any form of pressure or friction (even rubbing) can cause skin damage, particularly if your skin is moist or you suffer from poor circulation or poor sensation in your skin.
What you can do to protect your skin
- tell a nurse/midwife or doctor if you have any skin pain or burning feeling
- change position, even a little, every half hour or so
- keep active if you can – just moving around in bed can help
- eat and drink well
- avoid smoking – this reduces blood flow to the skin. Ask your nurse/midwife about how you can get help to quit
- avoid firm massage, especially over bony areas.
Caring for your skin
- use a mild cleanser and dry your skin gently
- use moisturizers if your skin is dry or flaky or cracks easily
- use barrier creams between skin folds
- use warm but not hot water in baths and showers.
When you are in bed
- change position every half an hour
- lie on your side to relieve the pressure on your bottom and heels
- avoid wrinkled, damp clothes and bedding
- sliding down the bed can put pressure on heels, bottoms or elbows. To avoid this, bend your knees or raise the foot of the bed. Only have the head of the bed up high for mealtimes.
Why is it important to prevent pressure injuries?
- they are painful and can take a long time to heal
- they can become infected making you very sick
- they can leave scars on your skin.
Preventing and managing infections
Hand hygiene is one of the most important ways you and staff can prevent the spread of germs that can cause serious infections. To stop germs spreading, all staff responsible for your care should wash their hands before and after caring for you.
If you don’t see staff washing their hands before and after treating you, please speak up. You and your family should not be afraid or embarrassed to ask staff to wash their hands.
We also encourage you to help with reducing the spread of infection. You, your family and friends should wash hands or use the alcohol skin disinfectants provided throughout the hospital.
When to perform hand hygiene
- Staff: everyone caring for you should wash their hands before and after touching or administering care to you.
- Patients: should wash their hands after going to the toilet and before meals (if you require assistance with hand hygiene please ask nursing staff).
- Visitors: should perform hand hygiene on entering/exiting the ward (hand hygiene stations are located at the entrance of each ward and common corridors).
Hand hygiene is everyone’s business and is the single most important thing that can be done to prevent the spread of infection whether you are in hospital, at work or at home. Be an active member in your care. If you do not see the doctor, nurse/midwife or other healthcare professional clean their hands before/after administering care remember – it’s ok to ask!