Older adults admitted to inpatient mental health units present with complex mental health care needs which are often compounded by the challenges of living with physical co-morbidities. They are a mobile population and a high risk group for falling during hospitalisation. To address quality and safety concerns around the increased risk for falls, a qualitative research study was completed to obtain an improved understanding of the factors that increase the risk of falling in this patient cohort.Focus groups were conducted with mental health professionals working across older adult mental health services in metropolitan Western Australia. Data were analysed using content analysis and three themes emerged that were significant concepts relevant to falls risk in this patient group. These themes were (1) limitations of using generic falls risk assessment and management tools, (2) assessment of falls risk not currently captured on standardised tools, and (3) population specific causes of falls.The findings demonstrate that older adult mental health patients are a highly mobile group that experience frequent changes in cognition, behaviour and mental state. The mix of patients with organic or functional psychiatric disorders within the same environment also presents complex and unique care challenges and multi-disciplinary collaboration is central to reduce the risk of falls. As this group of patients are also frequently admitted to both general inpatient and aged care settings, the findings are relevant to the assessment and management of falls risk across all health care settings.
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