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Free slippers fight falls in Norfolk

A dedicated group of NHS staff in Norfolk have been fighting falls in hospitals by giving out free slippers to patients in need.

The pilot project has reduced falls on wards at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust by almost 30% with the simple slippers scheme.

It has been devised by physiotherapist and falls lead Loretta Burgess in conjunction with the Trust’s Falls Interest Groups, the governance team and ward staff.

Loretta said: “In my role as falls lead I was concerned about some patients’ lack of access to footwear and how this could be contributing to people accidentally falling over on wards.

“Some people may come in to our wards as an emergency with no footwear or ill fitting footwear and it is a few days before relatives can bring them their own clothing. We also have patients who are unable to buy appropriate footwear immediately due to difficult circumstances or who have medical problems necessitating a quick change in footwear.

“There are also some patients whose health conditions result in them have difficulty
keeping track of their belongings and who therefore have a fast footwear turnover.

“With this in mind I applied for funding from the Trust’s charitable funds to test out whether providing free slippers and extra focus on footwear would reduce falls –
which it did. Over just three months we saw and incredible 28% reduction in falls.”

The six month pilot took place on four wards in Norfolk: Glaven Ward (adult acute), Foxglove Ward (specialised dementia), Laurel Ward (older people’s functional ward) and Chase Ward (older people’s organic ward).

The first three months collected data, information and patient feedback. This provided a comparison for the following three months when the footwear started being provided.

In addition to the falls reduction, results also showed that over four bed days - i.e. days where a bed is occupied by a patient – could be saved in every thousand saving the Trust money and getting the patient back to their normal life in the community quicker.

“We got more than 70 pairs of slippers in a variety of styles and colours for both men and women,” Loretta added. “We also managed to find ones at less than £6 a pair but that were still robust and safe enough to do the job.

“I am also looking to roll out footwear training packs to all areas of the Trust as we hope that by working to reduce falls rates across the Trust we can increase our patients’ safety and satisfaction and also save the Trust valuable resources.”​