Clinical champion is a must for falls program

Who wouldn't want to replicate a falls prevention program that cuts falls 46%? If you want the same results, here are some tips from Christine Waszynski, APRN, a geriatric nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist in the geriatrics program who works with the Fall Prevention-Safety Monitor Volunteer Program at Hartford (CT) Hospital:

• You must have a clinical champion.

The program can't be run solely out of volunteer services. A clinical professional from the fall prevention team needs to work closely with the volunteer coordinator to train the volunteers, monitor their work, and make good use of the data they collect.

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• Give the volunteers concrete, specific instructions.

Don't educate them about fall prevention and then tell them visit patients to look for fall hazards. Provide a checklist with precise items to inspect, correct, and talk to the patient about. The volunteers will be much more comfortable with their roles and more effective.

• Involve the nursing department.

Part of the program involves providing feedback to the nursing staff and holding staff accountable for deficiencies found by the volunteers. To ensure that the volunteer program is seen as an aid to the nursing staff rather than anything punitive, the nursing department needs to be on board from the start.