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Falls crime scene helps detect hazards at home

Pictured: Eleri D’Arcy next to the display.

How dangerous is your living room? Did you know everyday objects can easily trip you up – and lead to a serious injury like a broken bone.

As part of Falls Awareness Week (3rd-7th October), a replica living room was set up at Neath Port Talbot Hospital to highlight some of the everyday items or activities that could lead to a fall.

Dubbed a falls ‘crime scene’, the area was made up of trailing wires, children’s toys strewn across the floor, blankets draped over furniture and a loose rug – all of which can have the potential to cause a fall.

Even casual habits, like putting a handbag on the floor next to your chair or placing a drink by your feet, can create a risk by causing you to bend unnecessarily.

Set up by Eleri D’Arcy, Swansea Bay’s quality improvement lead for falls, it is hoped to raise awareness of ways to prevent the chances of falling.

“As part of the display, we had a rucked-up rug, trailing wires, small pets and small items, such as toys which may get left on the floor when grandchildren are visiting,” she said.

“We also had open-toe slippers which don’t offer sufficient grip or support, and a zimmer frame which had been left out of reach of the armchair.

“Putting blankets over the arm of a chair or a zimmer frame is something we see regularly, and can be a trip hazard when you go to stand up.

“Hand bags left around the bottom of chairs can also be a trip hazard, as the straps often dangle on the floor.

“Even dressing gowns draped over the bannister rail at the bottom of the stairs. If you put it on as you go upstairs, perhaps you forget to tuck it up or tie the belt, which you can trip over.

“The idea is not just to identify the potential problems but to then think about how to reduce the risks.”

Eleri suggested some tips that can help to reduce the risks of a fall at home, including:

  • Making sure rugs are nice and flat
  • Ensuring the room is bright and fully lit when doing tasks
  • Using strategically placed side tables to avoid unnecessary bending and reaching for items
  • Making sure children pick up toys before leaving
  • Wearing secure and enclosed slippers, ideally with Velcro fastening
  • Tidying trailing wires
  • Wearing sensible dressing gowns or making sure their belts are tied

While some falls can result in a physical injury, for many the implications can often be much wider as it can affect their confidence.

It can even lead to some becoming quite isolated as they may become afraid to leave the house in fear of another fall.

“The impact of a fall on someone’s life is absolutely huge,” Eleri added.

“It goes far beyond the physical implications and can really knock people’s confidence.

“It impacts people’s lives in so many ways and it is something that any one of us could experience.

“Falls are not an inevitable part of ageing and there is so much we can do to reduce the risk of them occurring.

“As part of Falls Awareness Week, we are trying to explore different ways of getting the message out there and encourage people to talk about falls.

“This week is all about trying to start the conversation and to understand that being more mindful of the risks is the first step to reducing the chances of falling.”