Do Assisted Living Facilities Have To Report Falls?

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®

Falls and slips are common types of injury among assisted living residents. And there are a number of reasons why falls in assisted living facilities occur. So here, we aim to provide the answer to the question “Do assisted living facilities have to report falls?” and what actions can you take.

Assisted Living Report Falls

Falls and slips are common types of injury among assisted living residents. And there are a number of reasons why falls in assisted living facilities occur. So here, we aim to provide the answer to the question “Do assisted living facilities have to report falls?” and what actions can you take.

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Most falls that occur in assisted living facilities and nursing homes are preventable. Falls in a nursing home or assisted living facility could be an indication of neglect.

These facilities and homes should have prevention plans and fall protocols in place that help to lower the risks of slips and falls.

Assisted Living Facilities And Fall Injuries

The services that are provided by ALFs (assisted living facilities) vary widely from one place to the next. Generally, most facilities offer to:

  • Provide meals to the residents
  • Supervise medication dispensing
  • Provide linen changes and housekeeping
  • Offer transportation to hospitals or medical appointments
  • Plan social events

The legal regulations and requirements also vary widely at these facilities in the different states and will also depend on the types of services that they provide. 

Assisted living facilities are probably liable when a resident falls or slips on wet floors in either a common area or dining hall. Unless their general housing or housekeeping contract states otherwise, they are usually not liable when it comes to falls in residents’ apartments. 

This liability may change when the facility has stated that they check on their residents daily and they are failing to do so. 

Assisted Living Statistics

It is a moment that many people fear when they are told that their elderly loved one or a parent has sustained an injury. According to Caitlin Morgan, these moments are commonly spurred by a fall or slip. 

Falls and slips are the most popular type of injury for residents in assisted living facilities and seniors in general.

According to statistics, 1 in 3 senior citizens (aged 65 and older) experience a fall every year, and 20 to 30% of these people suffer severe to moderate injuries from these falls.

As seniors grow older, the probability of falling or slipping increases, with seniors aged 85 and older becoming 4 times more likely to experience a fall when compared to seniors between the ages of 65 and 74. 

assisted living report falls discuss concerns
Families can provide the staff with a fall background and a history of their elderly family member.

How To Discuss Your Concerns About Falls With The Staff At An Assisted Living Facility

Is there anything families can do to assist with managing the risks of falls for their loved ones?

An assisted living facility needs to obtain accurate and in-depth information on all the residents. If a resident has already fallen at home, the likelihood that they will fall again is very high.

Families can assist by providing the staff with a fall background and the history of their family member or parent.

Assisted living communities often encourage family members to bring along personal items that help the resident to feel comfortable and secure. However, there are a few items that can pose risks. These include overcrowding furniture, general clutter, or throw rugs. 

This is why family members should be asking the staff what type of items or belongings are appropriate. At the same time, families should be encouraging their loved ones to stay physically active. 

The Common Causes Of Falls In Long-Term Care Facilities

Falls in assisted living facilities and nursing homes occur for several reasons. The most common reasons often include:

Health Conditions

Age often affects strength, gait, and balance. Other chronic illnesses or health conditions such as hip problems or Alzheimer’s also affect gait and balance. Residents that have these conditions or problems should be provided with extra supervision.

Prescription Medications

Side effects caused by specific medications can include balance problems and dizziness. Residents that are using the types of medications that might cause these issues should also be supervised more carefully.

Improper Training And Lack Of Staff

Every facility should have enough employees to effectively supervise all the residents. Staff members should also regularly assist, monitor, and reassess the fall risks for each resident. 

Environmental Hazards

These hazards might include spills or wet floors, inadequate lighting, cluttered common spaces or hallways, and defective floors.

Lack Of Fall Prevention Plans

Residents that are at higher risks of slipping or falling should have customized plans instituted to lower these risks. When there are no plans in place or these plans are not being carried out, then the risk of falls becomes more likely.

How To Reduce The Chances Of Falls At Assisted Living Facilities?

Since the staff at an assisted living facility hold the responsibility of looking after the welfare and health of the residents, several things can be done to lower the risks of falls and slips:

Keep It Clean

The assisted living center must be kept clean. The walkways should also be kept clear without any potential obstacles.

The National Center For Assisted Living suggests that these facilities should discourage crowded furniture and throw rugs in personal residences, as these easily result in falls and slips. 

Pay Special Attention To Bathrooms

The most common areas for falls and slips are bathrooms. This is mainly due to smooth surfaces and when water spills on the floors.

Handrails are recommended so that residents have something to grip on when using the bathroom. The floors must be kept dry and clean, and showers should have mats to prevent falls or slips. 

Establish A Notification System

When a resident does fall, the establishment should be aware of when it happens and provide help as fast as possible. This is why alert systems are important.

These allow the residents to contact a staff member or a nurse when an emergency, injury, or accident occurs. 

Have Rails And Grips Available

Bathrooms might be a common space, but falls and slips can happen anywhere. Facilities should, where possible, install grips and handrails in areas where residents may need to step down or walk.

Supervise

There should always be enough nurses and staff at any given time to watch the residents and spot when any person is having issues and help a resident quickly if they do fall or slip. 

Coordinate With A Doctor

When a resident falls, they may need to be taken to a hospital.

However, before these falls occur, the establishment should be coordinating with physical therapists and doctors to discuss whether the residents need canes or walkers or to assess the medications that the residents are taking to determine whether they cause dizziness (which increases the likelihood of falls and slips).

assisted living report falls liable
The facility or staff may be held liable if neglect exists.

Who Is Liable For Falls In Assisted Living Facilities And Nursing Homes?

Assisted living facilities and nursing homes have what is known as a “duty of care” to all the residents. If neglect exists, the staff or facility may be held liable for certain damages.

This can depend on the circumstances surrounding a resident’s fall. If one or more of the following apply to a case, then family members might have a claim that is viable to recover some form of compensation for the injuries their loved one has sustained:

  • The facility failed to assess the fall risks of the resident accurately.
  • Failure to implement a “fall prevention plan” for the residents based on their fall risks.
  • Failed to uphold the fall prevention protocols of the facility. 
  • Improperly trained staff or an understaffed facility.

What Should You Do Once Your Loved One Falls In An Assisted Living Facility

If your loved one has fallen at an assisted living facility, the first step involves obtaining an extensive medical evaluation. This is especially important if your loved one suffers from confusion or a cognitive deficit.

Fall injuries are not always immediately recognized, even when your loved one isn’t confused. 

Investigating Liability Of An Assisted Living Facility After A Fall

Complete records from the facility are vital, but this is often one of those insurmountable hurdles for families that are not familiar with the legal documentation required.

Even after the family has submitted the paperwork, they may not have received the “complete” records until or unless a person (such as a lawyer) that knows about these records asks or confronts the establishment about what might be missing. 

Liability may be due when the assessment is inaccurate or incomplete, the incorrect care plan, or when the staff failed to follow this plan. But in some cases, it can be possible that a facility did everything they are supposed to. 

What Should You Do After Your Loved One Is Injured?

Act fast! the laws have deadlines when it comes to asserting claims. In many instances, it can take months to collect enough information in order to evaluate whether the lawsuit is viable.

Some families don’t do anything. Their reasoning is that it won’t heal the injuries or bring their deceased family member back. Other family members make claims since they don’t want others to suffer a similar fate. 

Some of the assisted living facilities fall under corporate conglomerates that seem to be more interested in profits rather than patient care.

When left unaccountable, these establishments fail to change their negligent ways. Making a facility accountable is an important way to encourage them to change their ways.

Assisted living facilities should always ensure that the services they are providing are sufficient enough to match the needs of the residents.

When a resident requires the type of assistance that the establishment cannot provide, the resident should not be admitted or allowed to remain in such a facility.

References:

  1. https://www.chony.org/blog/38/can-I-sue-assisted-living-facility/
  2. https://www.nkf-law.com/blog/2020/august/falls-in-nursing-homes-and-assisted-living-facil/
  3. https://www.ahcancal.org/Assisted-Living/Provider-Resources/Documents/Falls_Consumer.pdf
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Scott Grant, CSA®, ATP, CRTS®

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Certified Rehab Technology Supplier (CRTS®)

I have been serving seniors and the elderly for over 20 years as a medical equipment and custom wheelchair specialist for a regional medical equipment company. I am also a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not helping older adult improve the quality of their lives, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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