Fall prevention – the action of stopping falls from happening or arising!

Your bed is a place where you rest. Whether you are 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.

Within the next four weeks someone will be killed as a 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 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 with 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 or 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?

SafeFree® side rails are split side rails which massively help reduce falls. The technology has been tested in practice more than 500,000 times.
 The special design of the SafeFree®-side rails provides support and helps the patients mobilise themselves. Different height settings allow the side rails to be adapted to the individual patient’s needs for protection and the design, without middle posts or central gap protector, allow unrestricted access to the 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 the SafeFree®-side rails provides support and helps the 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 himself 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 – safesense®

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. With SafeSense®, the freedom of the patient is upheld. A Night light is automatically switched on when the patient leaves the bed and is switched off again as soon as the patient is back in bed. An adjustable timer can be set from 0 seconds (immediate alarm) to 30 minutes meaning you can adapt to patient‘s mobility.

Everyone working in the care environment is aware of the implications a fall can have on a resident and providing the correct equipment for your residents 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].