20 April 2023
As someone with cerebral palsy I have had my fair share of experiences with falls. In some cases, getting back up on my feet has not been so easy and I’ve depended on a helping hand from friend, family member or even support worker.

While falls and stumbles might seem like an innocuous occurrence, when your mobility is compromised, for some, a fall can lead to unpleasant injuries – with the risks of fractures, bruising and skin infections. 

Earlier this year, I had such an experience when I tripped over on some hard cement outside my home. To get back up, I crawled a few inches to a nearby car and use it to pull my body back up. Unfortunately, in the process, I grazed my knee so badly that it led to an infection. I had to put my usual workout routine including my swim classes on hold and take a series of antibiotics – but I was lucky. 

According to the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW), “falls are Australia’s number one cause of injury hospitalisation and death, representing 42% of injury hospitalisations and 40% of injury deaths.”  

In addition, AIHW revealed that during 2020-2021 “over half of all falls leading to hospitalisation happened on a single-level surface (for example, by slipping or due to a collision). “ 

These incidents raise a question about how to handle falls when they happen. You can’t always prevent falls; however, you can manage the risks – particularly to yourself and those around you.  

For example, not all support workers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to manage a falls risk. But they should be; because the ability to know what to do if a client experiences a fall doesn’t just enable them to assist the client swiftly; but significantly reduces the risk of injury to themselves. 

A release published earlier this year by The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed that the most common cause of injury or illness was 'Lifting, pushing, pulling or bending' (24%). 

Support Workers have an obligation to ensure their own health and safety, as well as the safety of others. 

To protect our support workers on the job, as well as ensuring our participants are in good hands, all CPSN Support Workers are required to undertake the Disability Safe: Slips, Trips and Falls course provided by National Disability Services (NDS).  

The course helps workers to identify risks in and outside the home, as well as providing effective techniques to mitigate the risk of falls – the course illustrates how you can reduce the risk of personal injury if you need to lift or assist a client during a fall. 

If you haven’t already completed this course, you can access it via the FoundU Portal, or contact CPSN to learn more.  

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