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Effective Fall Prevention Strategies for Nursing Homes: Best Practices and Resources

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Effective Fall Prevention Strategies for Nursing Homes Best Practices and Resources

Falls are a significant concern for older adults, especially those residing in nursing homes. The consequences of falls can be severe, resulting in injuries, decreased mobility, loss of independence, and even death. The death rates among people over the age of 75 have been growing steadily for the past 20 years, and effective fall prevention strategies are a must. As the population continues to age, it becomes crucial for nursing homes to implement effective fall prevention strategies. In this blog post, we will explore the best practices and resources available to address the specific needs of older adults at the highest risk for falls and fall-related injuries in nursing home settings.

Understanding the Risk Factors

As individuals age, factors such as decreased muscle strength, balance impairments, and vision changes contribute to an increased risk of falling. To develop an effective fall prevention program, it's important to identify the risk factors associated with falls in nursing home residents. Some common risk factors include:

Understanding the Risk Factors

  • Decreased Muscle Strength

Aging is associated with a natural decline in muscle mass and strength, known as sarcopenia. Weaker muscles can affect balance, stability, and the ability to recover from slips or trips, making older adults more susceptible to falls.

  • Balance Impairments

Aging also affects the body's balance systems, including the vestibular system, which helps maintain equilibrium. Changes in balance control can lead to difficulties in maintaining stability and increase the likelihood of falls.

  • Vision Changes

As individuals age, vision changes occur, such as reduced visual acuity, diminished depth perception, and decreased ability to adjust to changes in lighting. These changes can make it harder to detect environmental hazards, judge distances accurately, or quickly adapt to changes in the surroundings, thereby increasing the risk of falls.

  • Chronic health conditions

Conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis, Parkinson's disease, and cognitive impairment can significantly affect an older adult's stability and increase their fall risk. These health conditions increase the chances of falls in older adults because they can weaken balance, coordination, and muscles, while also causing side effects like dizziness or drowsiness from medications. Conditions like osteoporosis and muscle loss make bones and muscles weaker, and cognitive impairments may affect judgment and awareness of hazards.

  • Medication side effects

Certain medications, such as sedatives, antihypertensives, and antidepressants, can cause dizziness, drowsiness, or impaired coordination, elevating the chances of falls.


Best Practices for Fall Prevention in Nursing Homes

Comprehensive Fall Risk Assessment

Comprehensive fall risk assessments play a vital role in identifying and mitigating fall risks in nursing homes. 
There are several types of fall risk assessments commonly used for older adults living in nursing homes. These assessments help healthcare professionals identify individuals at a higher risk of falling and develop appropriate fall prevention strategies. Here are some of the different types of fall risk assessments:

  • Tinetti Assessment Tool:

The Tinetti Assessment Tool is a widely used assessment that evaluates both gait and balance in older adults. It consists of a series of tasks, such as sitting, rising from a chair, standing balance, and walking. The assessment assigns scores based on the person's performance, indicating their risk of falling.

  • Berg Balance Scale:

The Berg Balance Scale is designed to assess an individual's balance and stability. It consists of 14 tasks that evaluate functional balance abilities, such as maintaining standing balance, transferring, and reaching. The assessment provides a score that indicates the person's fall risk.

  • Timed Up and Go (TUG) Test:

The Timed Up and Go test measures the time it takes for an individual to stand up from a chair, walk a short distance, turn around, return, and sit back down. This assessment evaluates mobility and balance and provides insights into fall risk.

  • Morse Fall Scale:

The Morse Fall Scale is a structured assessment that evaluates various risk factors associated with falls. It includes factors such as history of falls, secondary diagnoses, use of walking aids, and mental status. Each factor is assigned a score, and the cumulative score determines the person's fall risk.

  • Hendrich II Fall Risk Model:

The Hendrich II Fall Risk Model is a comprehensive assessment that considers various fall risk factors, including age, mental status, medication use, and mobility. It assigns points based on specific risk factors, and the total score indicates the person's fall risk level.


The STRATIFY assessment tool assesses fall risk in older adults by considering specific risk factors, including history of falls, presence of new medications, impaired mobility, and cognitive impairment. The assessment assigns points for each risk factor, and the total score determines the person's fall risk level.

It's important to note that different healthcare settings may use different fall risk assessments based on their specific protocols and preferences. Healthcare professionals in nursing homes may utilize one or a combination of these assessments to comprehensively evaluate an individual's fall risk and develop tailored fall prevention strategies.

However, it is important to be aware of potential pitfalls and take steps to address them effectively. Some common pitfalls include incomplete or inaccurate information, limited predictive accuracy, lack of contextual factors, the static nature of assessments, overreliance on assessments, compliance and implementation challenges, and ethical considerations. To avoid these pitfalls, nursing homes can employ the following strategies:

  • Ensure Comprehensive Information:

Gather accurate and comprehensive information about each resident's medical history, medication use, and previous falls. Collaborate with healthcare professionals and involve the resident and their family in providing accurate information.

  • Supplement Assessments with Other Strategies:

Recognize that fall risk assessments are just one part of a holistic approach. Implement other fall prevention strategies, such as environmental modifications, staff education, and individualized care plans, alongside assessments.
  • Conduct Regular Reassessments:

Recognize that fall risks can change over time. Conduct regular reassessments to account for changes in health conditions, medication regimens, or functional abilities. Adjust interventions accordingly.
  • Multidisciplinary Approach:

Implementing a multidisciplinary approach involving healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and pharmacists, can help address various aspects of fall prevention. Collaborative efforts ensure a holistic approach to identify and mitigate fall risks.

Individualized Care Plans

Based on the results of the fall risk assessment, individualized care plans should be developed for each resident. These plans should outline specific prevention, exercises, medication adjustments, and environmental modifications tailored to the resident's unique needs and risk factors. 

Implementing individualized care plans for seniors in nursing homes can be challenging due to various factors. However, steps can be taken to minimize these challenges. Here are some common challenges and strategies to address them:


  • Limited Resources and Staffing:

Nursing homes often face resource and staffing limitations, making it difficult to develop and implement individualized care plans for every resident. This can lead to generic or one-size-fits-all approaches.

Mitigation Strategy: Allocate resources effectively by prioritizing residents based on their level of need and risk. Ensure sufficient staffing levels and consider utilizing technology and AI systems to assist in care plan development and monitoring.

  • Time Constraints:

Healthcare professionals in nursing homes may have limited time to conduct thorough assessments and develop individualized care plans for each resident.

Mitigation Strategy: Streamline processes and documentation to save time. Utilize standardized assessment tools and templates for care plans to facilitate efficient and comprehensive planning. Collaborate with interdisciplinary teams to distribute responsibilities and tasks effectively.

  • Communication and Coordination:

Effective communication and coordination among healthcare professionals, residents, and their families are crucial for developing and implementing individualized care plans. However, challenges can arise due to fragmented communication or lack of involvement from all stakeholders.

Mitigation Strategy: Foster open and regular communication channels between healthcare professionals, residents, and their families. Utilize technology, such as secure messaging platforms or electronic health records, to enhance communication and ensure information is accessible to all involved parties. Involve residents and their families in care plan discussions and decision-making processes.

  • Staff Training and Education:

Nursing home staff may require training and education on developing and implementing individualized care plans. Lack of knowledge or understanding can hinder the effectiveness of care plans.

Mitigation Strategy: Provide comprehensive training and continuing education opportunities for staff members on the principles of individualized care planning. Offer workshops, seminars, and online resources to enhance their knowledge and skills. Encourage ongoing learning and professional development.

  • Resistance to Change:

Resistance to change can be a barrier to implementing individualized care plans. Staff members or even residents and their families may be reluctant to deviate from established routines or standardized approaches.

Mitigation Strategy: Foster a culture that promotes person-centered care and emphasizes the benefits of individualized care plans. Provide education and clear explanations to address concerns and misconceptions. Involve staff, residents, and families in the decision-making process to increase buy-in and ownership of care plans

  • Documentation and Record-Keeping:

Maintaining accurate and up-to-date documentation of individualized care plans can be challenging, especially in busy nursing home settings.

Mitigation Strategy: Implement user-friendly electronic health record systems that facilitate efficient documentation and record-keeping. Streamline documentation processes to focus on essential information while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. Provide training and support to staff on proper documentation practices.

By addressing these challenges and implementing mitigation strategies, nursing homes can enhance the development and implementation of individualized care plans for seniors. This, in turn, promotes person-centered care, improves resident outcomes, and ensures that their unique needs and preferences are met.


Strength and Balance Training:

Strength and balance training exercises for seniors in nursing homes can help improve stability, reduce the risk of falls, and enhance overall physical function. Here are some examples of exercises that are generally considered appropriate for seniors in nursing homes:

  • Sit-to-Stand Exercises:

These exercises involve transitioning from a seated to a standing position repeatedly. They help strengthen the lower body muscles, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

  • Leg Raises:

Leg raises target the hip flexor muscles and help improve leg strength and balance. They can be performed while sitting or lying down, and involve raising one leg at a time.

  • Standing Wall Push-Ups:

Wall push-ups are modified versions of traditional push-ups that can be performed while standing. They target the upper body muscles, such as the chest, shoulders, and triceps, and help improve upper body strength.

  • Toe Stand:

Toe stands involve standing on tiptoes for a few seconds and then returning to a flat-footed position. They help strengthen the calf muscles and improve ankle stability.

  • Weighted Arm Raises:

Using light dumbbells or resistance bands, seniors can perform arm raises to strengthen the shoulder and arm muscles. These exercises can include front raises, lateral raises, and overhead presses.


The efficacy of these exercises in improving strength and balance has been supported by research studies. Here are a few examples of studies that indicate the effectiveness of these exercises:

A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society examined the effects of a strength and balance training program on fall risk in older adults residing in nursing homes. The study found that participants who engaged in the program showed significant improvements in muscle strength, balance, and functional performance, leading to a reduced risk of falls.

Another study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation assessed the impact of a sit-to-stand exercise program on lower limb muscle strength and functional mobility in older adults. The results showed significant improvements in muscle strength and functional mobility among participants who performed the exercises regularly.

A systematic review published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity analyzed various studies on the effectiveness of balance training exercises for fall prevention in older adults. The review concluded that balance training programs, including exercises such as the heel-to-toe walk and toe stands, were effective in improving balance and reducing the risk of falls.

These studies, along with others in the field, provide evidence supporting the efficacy of strength and balance training exercises for seniors in nursing homes. However, it's important to note that exercise programs should be tailored to the individual's specific needs and capabilities, and supervision from healthcare professionals is recommended to ensure safety and proper form during exercise sessions.

Medication Side Effects

The greatest implication of medication side effects on older adults is an increased risk of adverse health outcomes. Older adults are often more vulnerable to the effects of medications due to age-related changes in their bodies, multiple chronic conditions, and the potential for polypharmacy (the use of multiple medications).


Group of substances
Examples of substances
Blood Pressure lowering drugs (antihypertensive drugs) in overdose (Hypotension)
  • Candesartan, Telmisartan
  • Enalapril, Ramipril
  • Hydrochlorothiazide, Furosemide
  • Metoprolol, Propanolol
Sedanting antidepressants, antipsychotics
  • Amitriptyline
  • Levomepromazine
  • Melperone
  • Mirtazapine
Anticonvulsive drugs used to treat epileptic seizures and pain
  • Carbamazepine, Oxcarbazepine
  • Gabapentin, Pregabalin
  • Phenytoin
Other sedatives used to treat insomnia, anxiety, vertigo or dizziness
  • Bromazepam, Lorazepam
  • Cinnarizine, Dimenhydrinate

Source: Jahn, Klaus & Kressig, Reto & Bridenbaugh, Stephanie & Brandt, Thomas & Schniepp, Roman. (2015). 

Medication side effects can have several significant implications

  • Falls and Injuries:

Certain medications can cause dizziness, drowsiness, or impaired coordination, which can lead to an increased risk of falls and injuries among older adults. This is particularly concerning for seniors residing in nursing homes, where falls can have severe consequences.

  • Cognitive Impairment:

Some medications, especially those with central nervous system effects, can contribute to cognitive impairment, confusion, or memory problems in older adults. This can impact their ability to perform daily activities, adhere to medication regimens, and make informed decisions about their health.

  • Adverse Drug Reactions:

Older adults may be more susceptible to adverse drug reactions, which can occur when medications interact with each other or with existing health conditions. These reactions can range from mild to severe and may lead to hospitalization or other complications.

  • Decline in Functional Abilities

Medication side effects can affect physical and cognitive function, leading to a decline in overall functional abilities. This can result in a loss of independence, reduced quality of life, and an increased need for assistance with daily activities.

  • Polypharmacy Challenges:

Older adults often take multiple medications to manage their chronic conditions, increasing the risk of side effects and drug interactions. Polypharmacy can be complex to manage, and the burden of medication regimens can be overwhelming for seniors, potentially leading to medication errors or suboptimal treatment outcomes.


It is essential for healthcare professionals to carefully consider the potential risks and benefits of medications prescribed to older adults and to regularly review and adjust medication regimens as needed. Open communication between healthcare providers and patients is crucial to ensure that the potential side effects are monitored, managed, and minimized to promote the safety and well-being of older adults.

Staff Education and Training

Educating nursing home staff about fall prevention strategies and best practices is essential. Staff education and training are vital components of fall prevention strategies in nursing homes. Here are some staff education and training approaches:

  • Fall Prevention Protocols:

Nursing homes can develop and implement comprehensive fall prevention protocols that outline best practices, guidelines, and procedures for staff to follow. These protocols can cover areas such as risk assessment, environmental modifications, resident monitoring, and response to falls.

  • Staff Training Programs:

Conducting regular training programs on fall prevention can enhance staff knowledge and skills. Training sessions can cover topics such as recognizing fall risk factors, proper resident handling techniques, communication strategies, and the use of assistive devices.

  • Communication and Reporting:

Effective communication among staff members is crucial for sharing information about residents' fall risks and preventive measures. Nursing homes can implement systems to facilitate communication, such as regular team meetings, incident reporting mechanisms, and clear documentation protocols.

  • Ongoing Education:

Nursing home staff should receive ongoing education on fall prevention strategies and updates in the field. This can be achieved through workshops, seminars, online courses, and access to relevant resources and research.


Challenges associated with staff education and training for fall prevention strategies include:

  • Staff Turnover:

Nursing homes often experience staff turnover, which can lead to gaps in knowledge and inconsistent implementation of fall prevention strategies. New staff members should receive thorough orientation and training on fall prevention protocols to ensure continuity of care.

  • Time Constraints:

Staff members in nursing homes are often busy attending to multiple residents' needs, which can make it challenging to allocate sufficient time for education and training. Efficient scheduling, prioritization, and integration of training into daily routines can help minimize time constraints.

  • Language and Cultural Barriers:

In diverse nursing home settings, language and cultural barriers may impede effective communication and understanding of fall prevention strategies. Providing multilingual resources, interpreter services, and cultural sensitivity training can help overcome these challenges.

  • Resistance to Change:

Staff members may resist adopting new fall prevention strategies due to ingrained routines or skepticism about their effectiveness. Promoting a culture of continuous learning, sharing success stories, and involving staff in the decision-making process can help address resistance and promote engagement.


To minimize these challenges, nursing homes can:

  • Prioritize staff education and training as an integral part of the organization's fall prevention efforts.

  • Provide ongoing support and resources to reinforce learning and encourage staff engagement.

  • Foster a positive work culture that values continuous learning and innovation in fall prevention strategies.

  • Regularly assess staff competency and provide refresher courses or additional training as needed.

  • Collaborate with external organizations, such as professional associations or universities, to access expertise and resources for staff education.

  • By addressing these challenges and investing in staff education and training, nursing homes can enhance their ability to implement effective fall prevention strategies and provide optimal care for residents.



Challenges associated with staff education and training for fall prevention strategies include:

In conclusion, AI technology has significant potential for fall detection and prevention in nursing homes. It can help keep residents safe, reduce the workload of staff, address healthcare worker shortages, and improve overall health outcomes. While there may be some challenges in implementing this technology, the benefits are clear, and nursing homes should consider investing in AI technology for fall detection and prevention.

Products that provide a real-time direct solution to prevent falls and fall-related injuries are lacking. There is a tremendous unmet need across all aspects of the healthcare continuum. Instead, they offer tools such as sensors, videos, and activity records to gather information and assess the probability of a patient falling in the far future. While caregivers can use this information to develop long-term fall prevention strategies, these products do not provide actionable steps to help seniors in real-time.

While the cause of falls may be multifactorial, the critical common theme is that they can't be prevented because there isn't a simple and cost-effective solution for caregivers and frontline healthcare staff to know if an older adult has imminent fall risk. This is a grave concern, as the repercussions of falls and fall injuries affect not only the individuals themselves but society and the economy of all nations, both small and large.

Learn more about how OK2StandUp Can help your nursing home improve patient safety.

If you are seeking a solution beyond the status quo. Beyond traditional approaches that require systems that detect falls or tools to create long-term fall prevention plans, I encourage you to learn more about OK2StandUP and how artificial intelligence is transforming the lives of how seniors can age safely wherever they choose to live. Moreover, how OK2StandUP can change the paradigm of care from reactive to proactive.

Useful Resources for Fall Prevention in Nursing Homes

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The CDC provides comprehensive resources on fall prevention, including guidelines, toolkits, and training modules specifically tailored for nursing homes. Their website ( offers valuable information to develop effective fall prevention programs. 

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): AHRQ offers evidence-based resources, including guidelines and toolkits, that can assist nursing homes in implementing fall prevention strategies. Their website ( provides access to relevant research and educational materials. 

  • National Council on Aging (NCOA): The NCOA provides a range of resources focused on fall prevention for older adults, including educational materials, exercise programs, and information on home modifications. Their website ( is a valuable source for both residents and healthcare professionals.


In conclusion, implementing effective fall prevention strategies is crucial in nursing home care to ensure the safety and well-being of older adults. By addressing risk factors, conducting comprehensive fall risk assessments, and developing individualized care plans, nursing homes can significantly reduce the incidence of falls and improve health outcomes for their residents. Staff education and the availability of useful resources further support the implementation of successful fall prevention programs.

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