RATIONALE, AIMS, AND OBJECTIVES: Patient sitters provide one-to-one care for hospital patients at high risk of falls. The study aimed to explore patient sitters' task readiness to assist in fall prevention on hospital wards.
METHOD: We conducted a cross-sectional survey. Respondents were patient sitters working in five hospitals providing medical, surgical, and aged care. The survey was developed using a theory of health behaviour change and used closed and open-ended items. Qualitative data were analysed using deductive content analysis.
RESULTS: Participants (n = 90) identified that patient factors, such as confusion, were the most frequent cause of falls (n = 338, 74%); however, the most frequent strategies identified to prevent falls were focused on the environment (n = 164, 63%). The most frequent barrier participants identified to preventing falls (n = 124, 67%) also pertained to patients, including aggressive patient behaviours. In contrast, staff factors, such as handovers being adequate, were identified as the main enabler for sitters being able to complete their tasks effectively (n = 60, 81%). Participants strongly suggested (71%) that further, preferably practical, training would be helpful, even though 84% reported receiving prior fall prevention training. Nearly all participants (98%) were motivated to prevent their patients from falling.
CONCLUSIONS: There is a gap between what patient sitters report as the cause of falls (patient factors) and what was suggested to prevent falls (environment factors). Education and practical training addressing challenging patient behaviours may improve sitters' task readiness to assist in preventing falls on wards. Improving communication and cooperation between patient sitters and nursing staff is also important.