At nursing homes around the country, the risk of residents falling and injuring themselves is a daily concern for staff. Special programs are often implemented as a result, but at EPOCH Senior Healthcare of Harwich, Maine, we’re learning that sometimes the simplest solution is the most effective.
Since July 2014, we have been taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to reduce the risk of falls through special, purposeful rounds that combine checking on resident safety with involved social interaction. Every shift, all staff members—not just our nurse assistants—spend 30 minutes making these rounds, which go beyond quick in-and-out check-ups.

Conducting The Rounds

During the rounds, our staff inquire about the resident’s comfort and evaluate the resident’s surroundings for safety, ensuring all personal items or items in use by the resident are in reach.

The attention-to-detail assessments are undertaken to prevent a scenario in which a resident falls while attempting to retrieve, for example, a book or TV remote that has fallen out of hand’s reach.

Staff members also encourage residents to spend time in supervised areas, and, perhaps most appreciated, they dedicate valuable face-to-face time with our residents.

Because all staff members make one of these 30-minute rounds each shift, residents are receiving more face time than ever, greatly improving their morale and feeling of security. But it’s not just our residents that appreciate the rounds—our nurse assistants are grateful for the support of the other staff, creating a positive team environment for all.

Since implementing the purposeful rounds as a part of our fall prevention program, we have reduced falls in our long term care units by 50 percent. In one unit alone, falls decreased from 13 in August to only two in September.

Communication Improved

Purposeful rounds are successful in part because they take a proactive approach to ensuring resident satisfaction and safety and, as a result, improve resident and staff communication. The rounds also show our residents that we are available to them and concerned with their comfort and how they are feeling each day.

After only a few weeks of implementing the purposeful rounds at Harwich, multiple residents individually commented on the new practice, while some even thought we had increased staffing levels because of the improved face time.

The rounds have subsequently been mentioned at resident council meetings, and residents have made a point to let us know that the rounds have made them feel safe, more secure in their daily routine, and more appreciated by staff. In return, the increased morale amongst many of our residents positively affects the morale of our staff.

The program was spearheaded by our Director of Nursing (DON) Paula Benetti, RN, who has implemented purposeful rounds at other facilities in the past to great success. Having worked with Paula before, we knew there was no question that we should try the program at Harwich.

Lori Anderson, RNWhile successfully implementing the rounds required commitment and collaboration from our staff members who already tirelessly perform their jobs, being able to see the results and how positively residents have responded has emphasized for everyone the importance of providing regular, purposeful visits.

Lori Anderson, RN, is administrator of EPOCH Senior Healthcare of Harwich, Mass. She has spent the past 30 years working in the greater Boston area in both acute and long term care and served as a DON for eight years. She earned her administrator’s license in 2007.