Effectiveness of Alarms in Avoiding Risk of Falls in Geriatric population – analysis and application of evidence

Analysis of evidence

The reviewed literature indicates that the use of alarms may not be effective in avoiding falls in nursing homes. For instance, such alarms could be a source of nuisance thus creating anxiety among the residents. Further, these might make the care givers to become complacent on the assumption that the alarm would always be available to alert them of the movement of the residents thus allow them respond appropriately. With studies showing the bed exit movements to differ in various residents, the accuracy of alarms to measure such movements may be impaired thus resulting into delayed response. Efficacy of alarms thus may not be verifiable from the reviewed studies.

Application of Evidence

The Findings that alarms may not be effective preventative tools to avert falls in residents in nursing homes bears various implications to care provision initiatives in such settings. Firstly, the evidence provides insight into alternative approaches that can be used to lower the risk of fall e.g. those based on the modes in which residents rise from the bed. Assessment of these modes would help individualize preventative initiatives thus help better the efficacy of such preventative methods. Secondly, the evidence establishes the need to address core antecedents of falls rather than focusing on alert systems. Such for instance would include exercises that aim to improve the stability and flexibility of the residents, appropriate staffing levels to ensure timely response to any risk situation and correcting medical conditions such as visual impairments that increase the risk of these falls.

Summary Statements

Falls of residents in a nursing home present a challenge to effective provision of care. Tools that can identify risk factors thus help care providers to initiate the appropriate responses would thus alleviate this challenge. This paper considered the effectiveness of alarms in preventing falls of geriatric residents of nursing homes. Although introduction of alarms was lauded as a progress towards eliminating falls in care-provision environments, the use of such alarms has presented various challenges that cloud their efficacy. For instance, such alarms are suggested to lead to complacency of care providers in the knowledge that an alarm would always sound incase of movement thus contribute to delayed responses. Secondly, such alarms are a nuisance to residents with the noises they emit being potential sources of stress, anxiety and depression in such residents. Finally, such alarms’ accuracy may be affected by the movement patterns of the residents.


Anderson, O., Boshier, P. & Hanna, G. (2011). Interventions to prevent healthcare bed-related injuries in patients. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (1). Doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008931.

Bunch, J. (2005). On the uses of bed alarms [Feature article]. Nursing Homes, 54(6), 50 & 52.

Button, J. (n.d.). Personal alarms: Safety device or hazard? V. Elliott (Ed.). Board on Aging and Long Term Care, Ombudsman Program.

Cameron, I.D, Murray, G.R, Gillespie, L.D. Robertson, M. C., Hill, K.D., Cumming, R.G. & Kerse, N. (2010). Interventions for preventing falls in older people in nursing care facilities and hospitals (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Review, (1). Doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005465.pub2.

Capezuti, E., Maislin, G., Strumpf, N. & Evans, L. K. (2002). Side rail use and bed-related fall outcomes among nursing home residents. Journal of American Geriatric Society, 50, 90-96.

Capezuti, E., Brush, B. L., Lane, S., Rabinowitz, H.U. & Secic, M. (2008). Bed-exit alarm effectiveness. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 49, 217-31. doi:10.1016/j.archger.2008.04.007

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC. (2009). Falls in nursing homes. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/nursing.html

Masspro (2006). Nursing home alarm elimination program: it’s possible to reduce falls by eliminating resident alarms. Case Study. Retrieved from http://www.masspro.org/NH/docs/casestudies/Alarm%20Elim%20CS%20Sept%2006.pdf

Hilbe, J., Schulc, E., Linder, B. & them, C. (2010). Development and alarm threshold evaluation of a side rail integrated sensor technology for the prevention of falls. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 79, 173-180. doi:10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2009.12.004

find the cost of your paper