Falls Prevention Week – April 7

There can’t be many hospital wards where healthcare workers start their shift with a dance practice, but that’s how the working day has begun for staff at Whangarei Hospital’s stroke unit and rehabilitation ward in recent months.

Ward 15 staff have been honing their singing and dancing skills in preparation for the production of a music clip aimed at sharing falls prevention messages. Set to the adapted sound track “We Won’t Take Falls Anymore”, the clip is due for release during April Falls week beginning April 7.

In addition, another video has been made outlining the story of a patient who falls and the impact it has on their life. Both clips will play during April Falls Week in the Whangarei Hospital foyer, where a stall will be set up promoting the falls prevention campaign.

April Falls Week is a national campaign lead by HQSC (Health Quality Safety Commission) and First Do No Harm (Northern region patient safety campaign). The Northland DHB Falls Prevention Group had a goal last year to reduce falls with harm by 20 per cent in the hospital - it was subsequently reduced by 50 per cent.

Associate director of nursing and member of the Falls Prevention Group Sheryll Beveridge says that preventing harm from falling can save a person from life-changing effects, as well as saving the health dollar by focusing the funds where they are needed.

“The group is constantly reviewing interventions that could prevent our consumers from falling while in our care and one very creative initiative has been the development of the Ward 15 video.”

The idea to create the music video clip came after clinical nurse manager Denise Watene and associate clinical nurse manager Lisa Cutts attended last year’s APAC (Asia Pacific) Forum on Quality Improvement in Healthcare, where they saw a British hospital’s video about hand washing.

“We always come away from quality conferences energised and wanted to put into practice some of the things we had learnt. We loved the hand washing video, and immediately thought our ward could produce something similar,” says Denise.

“Our ward has a large population of patients at high risk of falling, so we thought a music clip video would be a great way of getting falls prevention messages across to staff, patients and families. We also have a strong team culture here and thought we could have fun producing a video together.”

A small team was formed of Denise, physiotherapist Stacey Oldfield, occupational therapy assistant Jo Malloy, communications manager Liz Inch and film studies student John Michael Hicks – the nephew of a staff member. A story board and script were developed and a community contact recorded the soundtrack. Northland’s community television channel, Channel North, has been engaged to film the production.

The project team tried to involve as many of the ward’s 50 staff as possible. Support also came from further afield, with chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain playing a part in the production, Northland DHB agreeing to pay for the video to be professionally filmed, and St John Ambulance staff agreeing to be involved.

The video tells the fictional story of Mary, who comes to hospital by ambulance after a fall. In the rehabilitation ward, she learns about ways to prevent falls, including wearing sensible shoes and non-slip socks and using a call bell and a walking frame. The story ends with Mary back on her feet and leaving hospital to return home.

The music video is part of a compilation of health-related videos to be played in the ward’s patient lounge during peak visiting hours to deliver opportunistic health promotion and education messages. It may also be played in the Emergency Department at Whangarei Hospital on EDTV and made available to other DHBs.

The project has taken a huge amount of planning, but Denise says staff enjoyed working on the project and were delighted when patients and families on the ward gave positive feedback when they pre-tested the music track. One patient, a gentleman in his 70s, thought that it was a great way to capture his attention and that it gave him clear information about falls prevention while another, aged 99, said it was a great tune for “messages like that”.

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