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The Use of Gait Belts in Nursing Homes and How Falls Occur

By stladmin on April 15, 2024

A nurse helping an older man with a gait belt.

As people age, they may experience a decline in their physical abilities, such as strength, flexibility, and coordination. A range of conditions, including arthritis, inner ear problems, and side effects from some medications, can cause this deterioration. Unfortunately, this decline may lead to a loss of balance, which can result in harmful and even life-threatening falls.

How Do Gait Belts Work When Used Properly?

In nursing homes, caregivers must act quickly to prevent residents from falling while transferring them from one place to another. One way this is done is with a gait belt, which provides a secure grip to support the resident. These belts are made of durable materials such as nylon or canvas and are available in various sizes and designs to accommodate different body types and mobility needs. Some even have padded handles for added comfort or quick-release buckles for easy removal.

Proper placement and adjustment of gait belts are crucial for safe mobility assistance. The belt should be snugly secured around the waist, positioned over clothing, with the buckle in front. Adjustments ensure a comfortable fit, allowing two to three fingers to fit snugly between the belt and the waist.

The Role of Gait Belts in Assisting Mobility

Gait belts serve a critical purpose, supporting residents during transfers in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. By providing a secure grip around the waist, caregivers can help residents with mobility challenges, ensuring they maintain stability and prevent falls during transitions between surfaces such as beds, chairs, or wheelchairs. This support is particularly vital for residents with limited strength or balance, minimizing the risk of injury to both the resident and the caregiver.

Safe Walking in Nursing Homes: Gait Belts and Stability

Gait belts facilitate safe walking by offering stability and guidance to individuals as they move around. The belt’s firm grasp allows caregivers to provide physical assistance or guidance while encouraging residents to remain active and engaged in their daily activities. Using a gait belt significantly reduces the likelihood of falls and promotes confidence and a sense of security. Ultimately, gait belts empower residents to maintain mobility and independence; they promote independence by enabling residents to participate in daily activities with minimal assistance.

The supportive framework gait belts offer for mobility allows residents to retain a sense of control over their movements and experience greater autonomy in navigating their environment, fostering a higher quality of life and enhancing the well-being of older adults residing in care facilities.

Consequences of Misuse

Misusing gait belts significantly increases the risk of falls and injuries among residents. Improperly secured belts may fail to provide adequate support, leading to slips, trips, and other accidents during transfers and ambulation.

Improper use of gait belts can result in significant harm, including:

  • Falls: Improperly placed or loosely adjusted gait belts can lead to slipping or inadequate support during transfers, increasing the risk of falls and subsequent injuries.
  • Skin Irritation: Incorrect placement or excessive friction due to loose adjustment can cause skin irritation, pressure sores, or abrasions, particularly in older adults with fragile skin.
  • Respiratory Compromise: If the gait belt is positioned too tightly or inappropriately over the abdomen, it may compress the diaphragm or restrict breathing, leading to respiratory distress, especially in individuals with respiratory conditions or compromised lung function.

Additionally, the fear of falling can erode residents’ confidence and independence, impacting their overall quality of life.

Nursing homes have a legal obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents, so failure to properly train staff in the use of gait belts and other assistive devices can result in liability for negligence and elder abuse.

Gait Belts and Staff Training

Educating caretakers regarding staff-to-resident communication, proper technique, and personalized care is crucial in preventing accidents and promoting resident safety and well-being. Nursing homes must ensure the staff engages in regular training sessions and updates to ensure all staff remain proficient in using gait belts and other assistive devices. Supervision and oversight are also essential to promptly identify and address any issues or concerns.

The Law May Be on Your Side with a Gillette Elder Abuse Attorney

Laws governing elder abuse and negligence vary by jurisdiction but often include criminal penalties and civil remedies. Fortunately, an experienced Campbell County personal injury attorney can effectively analyze and explain your legal rights and options for receiving compensation for injuries sustained by you or your loved one. Attorneys offer a professional touch when pursuing compensation and advocating for elder rights.

If you believe your loved one has been harmed due to negligence in a nursing home, Steven Titus & Associates, P.C., can help in your fight for justice and hold accountable those responsible for your loved one’s injuries. Call (307) 257-7800 and speak with our Gillette elder abuse lawyer today for a free consultation.

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