PATIENT falls are on the up across Wye Valley NHS Trust with plans for sensors on wards with the worst figures.

Sensors already introduced at Leominster Community Hospital will roll-out to the other community hospitals.

Two wards at Hereford County Hospital have also been prioritised.

A dedicated Frailty Assessment Unit (FAU) has opened at the County to identify elderly patients at particular risk.

Overall, the number of patient falls across the Trust over the past three years has been decreasing.

In October, the pattern showed a marked turnaround.

Leominster Community Hospital, where falls were up from three in September to 13 by October makes a case study.

There, a review identified a number of repeat fallers including:

• A dementia patient who fell three times  having been admitted following a fall.

• A patient who fell five times. 

• A patient who fell twice.

One-to-one nursing was implemented in each case and  two of the three patients have now been discharged.

In addition, there were three isolated incidences of falls in the month.

Three falls sensors were put in place and the patient most at risk had a sensor specifically allocated along with slipper socks.

Across the trust the number of falls in in-patient areas has increased and remains above the monthly trajectory which targets a 10 per cent decrease by the end of the financial year.

The trust board was told last month that investigations into the increase made a need for easier access to sensors apparent – they are now stored and allocated from the trust’s equipment library.

Fall sensors are electronic pads which, when placed under a patient chair, can detect when the patient has left their chair.

 While sensors help monitor patients at risk of falling, they are a support to regular checks by ward staff and cannot prevent falls from happening.

Last month the trust also opened the FAU on the County’s Frome ward. This is an area dedicated to comprehensive assessment of older patients presenting with symptoms of frailty.

Frome was the ward with the hospital’s second highest number of falls, recording eight over October.

Lugg ward was first with 13.  

Both wards care for significant numbers of elderly patients and can expect a higher number of  falls.

Reviews are underway to identify any care issues involved.

Progress on patient falls is due to be reported back to the board in January.

Michelle Clarke, the trust’s director of nursing and quality, said the “slight” increase in patient falls was “disappointing” but none of the falls resulted in serious injury.

“It is important to be aware that we are caring for a higher proportion of older people compared to the national average, and patients with dementia, particularly in the areas where patient falls increased in October.  We have a robust falls prevention programme in place in our hospitals, which we continually review to ensure we reduce avoidable harm to our patients,” she said.