Exploring falls prevention capabilities, barriers and training needs among patient sitters in a hospital setting: A pilot survey

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Older patients in hospitals are at high risk of falls. Patient sitters are sometimes employed to directly observe patients to reduce their risk of falling although there is scant evidence that this reduces falls. The primary aim of this pilot survey (n = 31) was to explore the patient sitters' falls prevention capability, self-efficacy and the barriers and enablers they perceived influenced their ability to care for patients during their shifts. Feedback was also sought regarding training needs. Most (90%) participants felt confident in their role. The most frequent reasons for falls identified were patient-related (n = 91, 64%), but the most frequent responses identifying preventive strategies were environment-related (n = 54, 64%), suggesting that the sitters' capability was limited. The main barriers identified to keeping patients safe from falling were patient-related (n = 36, 62%) such as cognitive impairment. However, opportunities that would enable sitters to do their work properly were most frequently categorized as being staff-related (n = 20, 83%), suggesting that the sitters have limited ability to address these barriers encountered. While 74% of sitters reported they had received previous training, 84% of participants would like further training. Patient sitters need more training, and work practice needs to be standardized prior to future research into sitter use for falls prevention.

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