23 Nov 2017

Trips & Falls: When Should & Shouldn't You Lift A Fallen Resident?

Mangar Elk Emergency Lifting Cushion With Airflo 24 Pump
Mangar Elk Lifting Cushion With Pump

Trips and falls are common in seniors, which is why one of the most commonly asked questions in care homes is when is and isn’t it safe to lift a fallen resident. As a carer, your first response when someone has a fall is to help them up, but this is not always the best thing to do. Whether you should or shouldn't lift a fallen resident depends on a range of factors.

How to decide if it is safe to lift a fallen resident:

  • Stay calm and keep the resident calm and relaxed - reassure them that everything is going to be fine.
  • Look for injuries - bruises, cuts, and scrapes.
  • Do they have a serious injury, such as a broken bone or are in a lot of pain? If this is the case, don’t move them, call an ambulance immediately.
  • If they are not badly hurt, take things slowly and gently help them to their feet or use a lifting hoist to get them up.
  • Once they are up, keep an eye on them and notify their doctor that they have had a fall.

It can be hard to know whether it’s safe to use a lifting device to help a fallen resident up or whether you should instead call an ambulance. To help make answering that question easier, the iSTUMBLE aid has been created by the West Midlands Ambulance Service.

What does iSTUMBLE stand for?

I: Intense Pain - New pain from falling which includes a headache, chest pain, and stomach pain. Take into account the pain from the injury as well as pain from medical causes that caused the fall in the first place.

S: Suspected Collapse - Ask the resident whether before they fell they tripped, felt dizzy, felt nauseous, or collapsed.

T: Trauma to Neck, Back or Head - New pain in the neck, back or head following a fall or a new lump, bump or dent with or without bleeding. It’s also important to ask if there is any numbness or paralysis in the limbs.

U: Unusual Behaviour - New confusion, acting differently, agitated, quiet, sleepy, or struggling to speak, such as slurring.

M: Marked Difficult Breathing/Chest Pain - Serious shortness of breath which does not improve when anxiety levels are reduced, struggling to catch their breath to speak, pale skin or blue lips.

B: Bleeding - Free flowing, pumping or squirting blood. Apply strong pressure to the injury using a clean dressing and elevate if possible. Estimate blood loss amount, using mugs.

L: Loss of Consciousness - Knocked out or drifting in and out of consciousness. Loss of memory of events before and during the fall. Unable to retain information or keep repeating themselves.

E: Evidence of Fracture - Obvious deformity of bone, bone visible or severe swelling. Reduced range of movement or unusual movement.

What should post-fall care look like?

Observe: Do not leave the resident on their own. Follow their care plan. Look for bruises, swelling or cuts, and use a body map to record where these are located. Check resident every 10 minutes for the first hour, and every hour for the next two hours, and then every two hours until no longer worried. If there are any worries, call an ambulance or ring 111. 

Monitor: Take note of any change to behaviour or their symptoms, such as feeling confused or drowsy, for at least 48 hours. If the resident begins to feel unwell or acts strangely, contact their doctor immediately and record everything in care plan.

Report: You may need to complete a Safeguarding Alert Form if the resident has had an unexplained fall that required medical attention, or if there appears to have been a failure to follow the support plan in place to minimise the risk of falls. It is also important to contact the residents’ next of kin immediately.
There you have it, everything that you need to know about when you should and shouldn’t lift a fallen resident.

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