Free slippers scheme hailed for reducing falls in Norfolk hospitals
06:30 23 September 2012
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Handing out free slippers to people in hospitals has slashed the number of patients who have been hurt in falls.
The pilot project has reduced falls on wards at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust by almost 30pc since it was introduced.
Drawing on the trusts’ charitable funds, staff snapped up more than 70 pairs of slippers and tested them out in wards at Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich, Carlton Court in Lowestoft and Chatterton House in Kings Lynn.
Loretta Burgess, the trust’s physiotherapist and falls lead, said: “I was concerned about some patients’ lack of access to footwear and how this could be contributing to people accidentally falling over on wards.
“Some people may come in to our wards as an emergency with no footwear or ill fitting footwear and it is a few days before relatives can bring them their own clothing.
“We also have patients who are unable to buy appropriate footwear immediately due to difficult circumstances or who have medical problems necessitating a quick change in footwear.
“There are also some patients whose health conditions result in them have difficulty keeping track of their belongings and who therefore have a fast footwear turnover.
“With this in mind I applied for funding from the trust’s charitable funds to test out whether providing free slippers and extra focus on footwear would reduce falls – which it did.
“Over just three months we saw an incredible 28pc reduction in falls.”
During the six-month pilot project, results also showed that the number of ‘bed days’ - days where a bed is occupied by a patient – were being saved, because patients could get back to their normal life in the community quicker.
Ms Burgess said: “We got more than 70 pairs of slippers in a variety of styles and colours for both men and women.
“We also managed to find ones at less than £6 a pair but that were still robust and safe enough to do the job.
“I am also looking to roll out footwear training packs to all areas of the trust as we hope that by working to reduce falls rates we can increase our patients’ safety and satisfaction and also save the trust valuable resources.”
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