A Midlands hospital trust has recorded a significant reduction in falls, following the introduction of an open visiting policy across all of its hospitals last year.
The policy was introduced by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in April 2015, with the aim of helping boost patient recovery and provide a more positive experience for relatives and staff.
“The overwhelming conclusion we had from all sides was that open visiting is the right thing to do”
Figures have shown that in the period since April the trust recorded nearly 260 fewer falls across its three hospitals, compared to the same period the previous year.
During the first three quarters of the 2014-15 financial year – nine months in total – there were 2,477 falls across the three trust hospitals, said a trust spokesman.
He told Nursing Times this figure reduced to 2,218 in the same period in 2015-16 since open visiting came in, a reduction of 259. The trust will be able to measure the effect of the policy over a full 12 months after the end of the current financial year on 31 March.
The trust noted other work had been taking place around falls prevention that had “no doubt contributed” to the reduction, but it believed the introduction of open visiting had played a “significant part”.
Julie Tunney, the trust’s deputy chief nurse, said: “The flexibility of this policy enables patients with dementia and other elderly patients to have their carers and loved ones with them more often and be more involved in their care, including assisting with tasks such as feeding and going to the bathroom.
“We have seen that having that support and a familiar face, on top of the expert care and support from staff, particularly for patients with dementia or delirium who can become easily confused, helps to reduce the potential for falls within the acute setting,” she said.
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She added that evaluation work had been carried out following the introduction of open visiting to gather feedback from staff, patients and visitors.
“We will look to adapt the policy as a result of that feedback, particularly around numbers of visitors and disturbance to other patients, but the overwhelming conclusion we had from all sides was that open visiting is the right thing to do for patients and a positive step forward,” said Ms Tunney.