Dying to get out of bed

Falls Prevention

Each year 20,000 people are injured from falling out of bed.  But how is that even possible? Your bed is a place where you rest and whether you’re asleep or recovering from an injury, it is somewhere you should feel comfortable and safe. With the ageing population, providing a safe place for an elderly person could potentially save their life. Yet, there are incidences where residents are falling from their beds causing injury and in some cases death. The main cause of death are head injuries caused by falls from a bed and asphyxia caused by pressure to the neck when wedged against a bed rail. Sadly, within the next four weeks, someone will be killed as a direct result of a bed fall. (, n.d.)

Why do bed falls happen?

Cognitive, biological and behavioral problems can all play a part in bed falls. With nursing staff having to Cognitive, biological and behavioural problems can all play a part in bed falls. With nursing staff having to watch more than just one resident at night, problems may arise if residents need to get up. With no one immediately available they are at increased risk of falls. This is made worse for residents suffering Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or other illnesses or for those on certain medicines that may cause confusion. The lack of side rails, or the risk of residents climbing over the side rails combined with the lack of a comprehensive fall prevention plan is a recipe for disaster.

What can nursing staff do to help reduce bed falls?

Firstly, as mentioned above, having a falls prevention plan in place in your home is key. In nursing homes, a fall prevention plan consists of correct placement and installation of bed and chair alarms, fall mats, improved lighting, rooms and hallways free of clutter, re-assessing residents’ medications, use of sitters and increased overall staffing.

Secondly, proper equipment is vital.  A nursing bed may be in its raised position for ease of nursing but when this is combined with a lack of side rails, if a resident was to fall, this would cause serious injury, heart attack, fractures and head injuries. Ensuring the bed is in its lowest position and adding the split side rail concept can dramatically reduce the risk. 

What is the split side rail concept?

Beds with split side rails, such as the Stiegelmeyer Libra, massively help reduce falls. The special design of these side rails provides support and helps residents and patients mobilise themselves. Different height settings allow the side rails to be adapted to the individual patient’s care needs for protection, and the design, without middle posts or central gap protector, allow unrestricted access to the resident/patient.

With continuous side rails, if a resident wants to exit the bed, they may try to climb over the side rails. If this happens, not only do they run the risk of falls, but the risk of entrapment becomes a massive issue. By having half the side rails down the resident can swing their legs around and easily exit the bed.

The special design of split side rails provide support and help residents and patients mobilise themselves. An optimal adjustment to the individual mobilisation height for different patient sizes is possible thanks to the flexible height settings. 

1 No protection needed

Lowered, the divided side guards look homely and provide unhindered access to the resident for daily routine nursing tasks. No need to take off and store accessories that are in the way, such as a middle post or fixed side guards.

2 Soft protection 

For safety at night, it is often sufficient to combine the low position of the bed with the first height level of the head-end side guard. This avoids unnecessary barriers and effectively reduces the risk of falls on the long term. The resident can orient themself without being restricted.

3 3/4 Protection

Creates a deliberate bed egress gap at the foot end to reduce freedom-depriving measures (FDM) while at the same time maintaining a high safety standard.

4 Full protection

The highest position provides comprehensive protection of the resident. The distance between the two parts of the side guards is minimal, making them just as safe as a continuous side guard and exceeding the requirements of the standard IEC 60601-2-52.

Bed alarms – AIRlert, the unique air system for safe and reliable monitoring

As mentioned previously, as part of the falls prevention plan, fitting a bed alarm can considerably increase the level of safety, especially during night and weekend shifts with fewer staff. Discreet, adaptable and reliable the AIRlert air pressure mat is very robust and accurate, operating on air rather than relying on electrical sensors, meaning it is extremely reliable. It is also renowned for being very easy to use.

On its standard setting, the alarm will sound when the resident/patient leaves the bed, but if an earlier alarm is required, it is easily adjusted so the alarm sounds when the patient sits up in bed.

Everyone working in the care environment is aware of the implications a fall can have on a resident/patient and providing the correct equipment and having procedures in place can help reduce the amount of falls and injuries that occur.

For more information on falls prevention please contact our OSKA pressure care experts.

References (n.d.). Why so many bed falls in care homes? | Guest Blog | Independent Living. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2019].