Bright yellow blankets and slippers aid in fall prevention at Doncaster hospital

Health professionals at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) have begun a pilot scheme to pair vulnerable patients with yellow blankets and slipper socks, visually signifying to health professionals that the individual may be at a heightened risk of falling.

Tuesday, 7th June 2022, 11:23 am

Esther Lockwood who is the Falls Lead Practitioner and Holistic Care Team Lead at the Hospitals Trust said, said: “Evidence from similar projects in hospitals across the country has shown that this way of working reduces the incidence of falls.

“The slipper socks and blankets are bright yellow so that if someone sees a patient walking around the ward area they are aware that they are at a high risk of falling and support accordingly.

While clinical systems are in place to highlight individuals who are more vulnerable or have complex needs, the organisation’s Holistic Care Team wanted to implement something which stood out, allowing busy staff to pick on these visual cues quickly and easily.

Esther Lockwood with yellow slipper socks and blanket

The process starts at admission, with colleagues within the Emergency Department supplied with ‘falls kits’ which contain the yellow garments, and those assessing patients as they arrive are provided with an additional set of questions to identify those who may be at risk.

Esther continues: “We heard about the ‘falls kits’ through partners and thought this may help to communicate and highlight to colleagues, in a simple way, our patients with an increased risk of falls.

“So far, we’ve found that it has worked really well – taking a really simple idea and using it to keep those with us safe.”

And concluded: “Naturally when a patient has a fall it can have a huge impact on their health.”

The potential consequences extend not only to physical injury and limitations in mobility but can also have a psychological impact – such as fear of further falls which can then limit their independence.

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The kits are supplied by Medline who have supported the trial with both the education and training of staff, collection of feedback, and provision of marketing materials to aid communication of the project to ensure staff get involved.

Esther concludes: “As a team we have been really encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by colleagues to implement this way of working and, ultimately, reduce falls within our hospitals.

"I want to share my thanks with everyone who has gotten involved and helped us to make our wards and services that little bit safer.”

The Holistic Care Team was launched within the Trust in March 2021. The team consists of specialist nurses as well as allied health professionals with significant expertise of preventing falls and deconditioning.

Abigail Trainer who is the Acting Chief Nurse at DBTH, said: “I want to thank Esther and the wider Holistic Care team for their hard work in implementing ‘See Yellow, Think Falls’.

"The best ideas and innovations are often incredibly simple, and anything that increases vigilance amongst colleagues and reduces potential harm for our patients is an excellent development, and one that the Trust wholeheartedly wants to champion.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.