Care home bosses have hit upon a bright idea to cut the number of falls by their elderly residents – by lighting up their loos.
Staff at the Haven Care Home in Colchester, Essex, grew concerned when a number of guests slipped after getting out of bed in the dark to visit the toilet.
To try and slash the risk of potentially serious injuries, they have installed glow-in-the-dark features to the rooms, making it easier for residents to get about at night.
This includes illuminated footprints leading them to the bathroom, glow-in-the dark paint on the door frames and even a light-up loo to guide them where to go.
In the two months since the unique method was installed, only one resident has fallen at night, compared with nine in the same time period last year.
Manager Ryan Moring, who came up with the ‘luminous loos’ idea, said: “Earlier this year I looked back at the number of falls residents had had over the year.
“I was concerned to find 50 per cent of these were at night, when residents were getting up to use the toilet.
“I spoke to my staff and one wondered put it simply – we needed to show them the way.”
According to Age UK, six elderly people suffer a fall every minute in the UK.
Ryan has also introduced glow in the dark signs so his elderly residents can easily locate the toilet and motion sensors which light up the toilet when they enter the bathroom at night.
His staff have also fitted lights to patients’ zimmer frames and mobility aids to help them locate them at night.
They’ve spent around £200 on the scheme so far, but Ryan says money is no object when it comes to his residents’ wellbeing.
He said: “A fall can be completely detrimental to an elderly person’s health.
“We are trying to avoid hospital appointments and major injuries.
“We have seen great results already. Last year in January and February we had nine falls and in the same amount of time this year we’ve had just one.
“If it reduces falls by just one then it’s money well spent.”
Ryan told how many of his residents suffer from dementia and the luminous loos idea appeals to them as it draws their attention.
He said: “People with dementia can easily get distracted but this draws them to the toilet and helps them focus, particularly at night.
“We’ve been trying to get them involved with decorating their wheelchairs and painting the door frames too.
“They love it, and really benefit from the interaction.
“The more we can do for them the better. The sky’s the limit.”
Angela Donlevy came up with the idea after wondering in a dream why all the frames were grey.
After ‘pimping’ the frames with bright colours the numbers of falls at some of the homes run by Essex County Council fell by 60 per cent.
The bright colours have proved invaluable to residents with dementia who previously struggled to recognise which frame was theirs.