Each second of each day in the United States, an older adult falls. And as the aging population grows, so will the number of falls and the related cost of care.
Those figures are already massive, and they’re only growing. Falls cost our health system $50 billion a year, but by 2030, with 72 million older adults experiencing a combined 52 million falls every year, that cost will double: $101 billion per year.
One of the major falls-related issues for senior living operators is visibility. When residents are alone in their rooms and fall, operators lack information around the fall — namely what caused it, and its severity.
In other words, the severity of the fall is often hidden from operators, which can result in either an ER visit when one is not needed, or an errant decision to not send a resident to the ER.
The innovative technology from SafelyYou solves that visibility problem and reduces falls in communities.
And they have the data to prove it.
With the inaugural State of Falls report for 2022, SafelyYou — the leader in empowering safe, person-centered dementia care through real-time AI video technology and 24/7 remote clinical experts — brings even more information to the industry. SafelyYou’s research findings bring into clear focus how prevalent, serious and costly falls are in senior living nationwide.
“At SafelyYou, our clinical team has reviewed more than 50,000 on-the-ground events — so we know more about falls than anyone else in the world — and we remain committed to creating a future where falls are fewer and senior living communities are safer,” says George Netscher, founder and CEO of SafelyYou.
Now it’s time to move from awareness to action — a future with fewer falls begins with a single step. Here are key takeaways from the report.
Six key stats from the new SafelyYou report
The SafelyYou report is based on a survey of over 400 senior living executives and care providers, and also includes the views of more than 1,000 Americans 42 and older to understand their perception of falls and how caregiving was impacting them.
The resulting 12-page report is loaded with essential information, and offers these six findings:
- Falls drive turnover. 85% of senior care executives report that falls significantly impact staff turnover.
- Turnover decreases care quality. Nearly half (46%) of senior care staff report that labor is a top challenge; 66% say labor issues lead to a decreased quality of care.
- Falls result in residents requiring additional care. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of falls among residents resulted in the individual requiring more care, including, at times, moving to a higher care setting.
- Falls labor time is significant. On average, clinical staff spend about one full work day each week (17% of their time) on falls-related issues.
- COVID is driving falls. One out of five community staff members say there are more falls since mid-2020/pre-COVID.
- Caregivers feel the emotional burden. 20-40% of all caregivers experience depression.
“Our State of Falls report highlights the significant impact falls have across senior care, capturing the enormous emotional, physical, and financial tolls they take,” Netscher says. “What we have discovered is that in the midst of this crisis, there’s great opportunity for change — and senior care providers are ready for it. The majority plan to elevate their fall prevention strategies within the next year, implementing innovation and staff training to reduce falls in their communities.”
The cost of falls
Across assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities, the annual direct cost of all falls is $380,000. For enterprise communities, the average is $712,000.
When a resident experiences a fall, the financial impact can be felt across the organization.
- The average length a resident moves out temporarily is 21 days.
- When a resident leaves an assisted living community temporarily, the majority – 60% – refund or credit care costs, while 41% provide a rent refund or credit.
Beyond direct costs, six in 10 facility executives believe that improving their ability to reduce falls would be highly effective to increase their competitive advantage.
The true impact of falls
Assisted living communities report an average of 260 resident falls across the organization per year. These falls create an emotional toll on both residents and staff, thus harming quality of life:
- Twenty-four percent (24%) of falls resulted in residents requiring more care
- 1 in 7 move-outs were related to falls
- Fifty-nine percent (59%) report that falls impact the ability to provide a high level of resident care.
What can be done to prevent falls
The findings reveal a reason for hope: 85% of respondents believe falls can be prevented, with many actively taking steps to do so:
- Sixty-six percent (66%) have a fall safety team in place to focus on fall prevention and training
- 8 in 10 train staff in fall safety
- 6 in 10 plan to increase fall mitigation strategies in the next year
“Falls are often seen as an inevitable part of the aging process, but so much can be done to help prevent them,” says Glen Xiong, M.D., clinical professor at UC Davis Health and chief medical officer at SafelyYou. “The more we can do to make our care providers aware of fall risks, highlight best practices for preventing falls, and implement innovative new solutions, the better quality of care our senior living communities will be able to provide—and the better off our seniors will be.”
This article is sponsored by SafelyYou. To access the full report, click here.