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Baywatch project aims to guard patients from hospital falls

Members of staff holding up posters

Hospital staff are launching their very own Baywatch – but to keep people safe on the wards rather than at sea.

They will take it in turns to watch Morriston Hospital patients at high risk of a fall.

When they are admitted into hospital, each patient undergoes a falls risk assessment. Depending on their condition, they may need regular reassessments.

Pictured: Louise Jenvey (centre) with members of staff on the Cyril Evans ward in Morriston Hospital.

Launched this month (December), Baywatch will see dedicated members of staff based within a ward bay where patients have been assessed as being at high risk of falling, making it easier for staff to monitor them.

Members of staff holding up posters

Working to an hourly rota, they will be on hand to support patients, helping them move around, advising them on appropriate footwear and helping them out of bed safely when they are able to do so.

Louise Jenvey is interim head of nursing for speciality surgical services and lead for inpatient falls improvement at Morriston Hospital.

She said: “We started having conversations about what we could do to help reduce, prevent and learn lessons from previous hospital falls.

“Some wards have already trialled the principle of Baywatch and we know it can make a difference.

“We have now taken the big step to implement the principles of Baywatch across all wards in Morriston Hospital.

“If a patient wants to get out of bed, it means someone is there to help them and to support them to move safely.

“There will be occasions when patients are not able to make independent decisions to prevent the risk of falling.

“In these cases, the staff member on Baywatch is there to observe and seek help from other members of the team to ensure that the patient’s needs are addressed and they do not come to harm.”

Patients are usually encouraged to be up and about as it aids their recovery. But in some cases, where they are at risk of a fall, preventative measures and support are needed to be able to help them move safely.

This could be by making sure there are no trip hazards, calling for assistance or making sure that walking aids aren’t forgotten.

A review of previous inpatient falls at Morriston Hospital over an extended period of time was carried out.

It found that the majority of falls happened at the bedside when the patient’s desire to move was outweighed by their physical ability, particularly following surgery.

“A lot of patients feel that the nurses are very busy and they don’t want to disturb them,” Louise added.

“They want to try and be as independent as possible.

“This initiative will help us to engage with patients and allow us to have conversations with them so that they can make the right decision about how and when to move.

“It is a preventative measure to try and support them to be as independent as possible without putting them at risk.”

A woman wearing a mask and holding up a poster

Baywatch posters will be put on display at the entrance to the bay on wards where the initiative is in operation.

While it will mainly be nursing staff and healthcare support workers taking on the Baywatch role, it is hoped it will evolve into a multi-disciplinary approach.

Louise (pictured) said: “This is a nursing initiative which nursing staff have said will help to prevent falls before they happen.

“It will predominantly be led by the nursing staff and healthcare support workers because they are with the patients for a greater amount of time than anyone else so get to know them better.

“However, any member of staff can engage with the role – from occupational therapists, physiotherapists, receptionists and other medical staff.”

The initiative was conceived after falls prevention was identified as one of five priority areas that make a real difference to the lives of patients, families and staff.

End of life care, healthcare acquired infection, sepsis and suicide prevention are the health board’s four other quality and safety priorities.

While Baywatch will be introduced in Morriston, plans are already in place to roll it out to other hospitals next year.

“A fall whilst in hospital can and does have a significant impact on a patient, even if they are not physically harmed,” Louise said.

“It can affect the length of time they are in hospital, their recovery from illness and their confidence to return to their lifestyle prior to admission to hospital. The fear of falling can be very real and debilitating.

“Our aim is to work with our patients and support them in being involved in their recovery from illness, provide them with information and support to make good decisions about how and when to move around and, above all, reduce harm.”

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