With an ageing population, Milton Keynes Hospital is committed to providing elderly patients with the best care in hospital and a smooth transition to life back at home.
New roles have been created to achieve this, including the addition of a Falls Prevention Coordinator and a Lead Nurse for Dementia.
Reassurance and understanding are at the heart of Tracey’s role as Falls Prevention Coordinator.
Tracey decided to apply for the role after seeing how a fall affected someone close to her and seeing firsthand the impact it had on their life.
Tracey has previously worked as a staff nurse at Milton Keynes Hospital, a ward sister at Bedford Hospital and as a clinical risk coordinator for BMI Healthcare.
She is now enjoying being able to focus on one area of clinical governance and sees exciting times ahead for Milton Keynes Hospital, particularly with the drive to enhance care for elderly patients.
From her personal experience, she was keen to support those in hospital susceptible to falls or who had previously suffered a fall.
Tracey said: “People, and especially the elderly, may be reluctant to tell you they’ve fallen because they find it embarrassing. But it is important we encourage people to talk about falls and discuss their anxiety, because there is something we can do to help - not only during their stay at the hospital but also when they leave us.”
As Falls Prevention Coordinator, Tracey spends time on the wards talking to patients, families, carers and staff about falls prevention.
She said: “It’s important that patients, families and carers have someone who understands what they’re going through. I can give them support and help them avoid falls in the future. I can also put them in contact with people in the community who can help them make their home as safe as possible, advise on the right exercises to improve their strength and balance, and who can put them in contact with others who have been through a similar experience.”
A significant part of her work is providing Falls Awareness Training to ward based staff, with 91 per cent of staff trained as of April 2014. She will be continuing this training in other parts of the hospital, like A&E and X-ray.
She said: “Patient falls are the responsibility of everyone working in the hospital so this training is essential.”
Tracey works closely with staff, for example with the pre-assessment team. They help to identify people coming in for surgery who are at risk of falling, make patients aware of the support Tracey can give and also provide a copy of the hospital’s falls prevention information leaflet to the patient.
As well as spending time on the wards, Tracey’s role also involves collating reports, analysing trends and building networks with partner organisations in the community and regionally. She works closely with her counterparts in the community to ensure patients who are discharged from hospital have the best possible support for falls prevention at home. Support is provided by agencies like Age UK, Safer Steps and the Community Falls Prevention Team.
Tracey said: “Support from these community falls services are vital. Sometimes people who have had experience of a fall or falls have little confidence, go home and worry it’s going to happen again. To have that falls prevention support in the community builds their confidence.”
In conclusion, Tracey said: “It means so much to me to have a role which can help people avoid the traumatic experience of a fall. Not only is it good for their safety and health, it gives people the confidence to go on with their lives.”