Fall-injury pose a public health problem in the globally growing elderly population. Reducing energy in order to prevent injuries has been successfully applied in many injury prevention fields, though less so within fall injury prevention. Compliant flooring has been proposed as a measure to prevent fall-injury, however little is known regarding the implementation aspects in clinical settings. The aim of this study is to investigate the primary injury reducing effect of complaint flooring, as well as secondary effects such as the influence on fall frequency, work environment and living conditions for elderly in residential care.
Falls as well as fall injuries were registered during a period of 68 months at a residential care facility in Sweden in which some areas had compliant flooring and other areas had PVC flooring. In two quantitative studies, the difference in the outcomes of falls was studied as well as the effect on the risk of falls depending upon the flooring surface in which the event occurred. Also, in two qualitative studies, the staff and residents were interviewed on views of fall prevention and compliant flooring.
The results indicate that compliant flooring has the potential to reduce the risk of fall injury by up to 60% without increasing the risk of falls. Results from the interviews showed that staff appreciated the compliant flooring in that it defused the falls as well as leading to greatly improved acoustics. However, there were some challenges associated with the compliant flooring, especially the maneuvering of heavy equipment. The elderly also appreciated the intervention, even though the general interest for fall injury prevention was minimal.
We conclude that complaint flooring can reduce fall injuries in a frail elderly population without increasing the risk of falls. The intervention also seems to work well from the perspective of the staff and residents.