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How Does Collaboration Between Therapists and CNAs Contribute to Fall Prevention in the Elderly Population?

Brittany Horvath, MS, CCC-SLP, CDP

February 1, 2024

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Question

How does collaboration between therapists and CNAs contribute to fall prevention in the elderly population?

Answer

Collaboration between healthcare disciplines, particularly therapists and certified nursing assistants (CNAs), is pivotal in fall prevention among the elderly. A Cochrane review in 2022 indicated that around 30% of individuals aged 65 and above experience falls yearly, with a higher percentage in those over 85 (Gillespie et al., 2022). Given the multifactorial nature of fall risk, effective collaboration and communication between disciplines become essential in addressing various factors such as deconditioning, cognitive impairments, visual impairments, nutrition, and hydration.

The interdisciplinary approach to fall prevention involves sharing knowledge between therapists and CNAs, enabling a comprehensive understanding of the individual patient's needs. This collaboration extends beyond physical considerations to incorporate cognitive and communication factors often overlooked in traditional education and training. A meta-analysis by Lee and Hee (2016) reinforces the positive impact of exercise programs on fall prevention in skilled nursing facilities, emphasizing the need for a collaborative effort to enhance the effectiveness of fall prevention programming. Moreover, collaborative efforts between CNAs and therapists in cognitive retraining and toileting programs contribute to urinary incontinence management, further supporting fall prevention initiatives.

 

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course Skilled Nursing Facility Interventions: Interdisciplinary Collaboration Between Therapists And Certified Nursing Assistants, by Brittany Horvath.


Brittany Horvath, MS, CCC-SLP, CDP

Brittany Horvath earned her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication at Westminster College and her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at Clarion University, both in Pennsylvania. She is currently a second-year clinical doctoral student at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions and will graduate in December 2023. Her doctoral research focuses on training speech-language pathologists in palliative care. Brittany spent 13 years in skilled nursing, serving as the Director of Rehab for eight of those years. During her time as the Director of Rehab, she encouraged interdisciplinary collaboration with all members of the team, with a focus on patient-centered care. In January of 2023, she began serving traumatic brain injured and neurologically injured patients through Home and Community rehabilitation with Collage Rehabilitation Partners. Brittany’s interests lie in palliative care, dysphagia, aphasia, and advocating for individuals’ quality of life.


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