A Macquarie University study is evaluating an Australian-developed app that aims to improve the quality of post-fall reporting and interventions in residential aged care.

The SummaRise app, which has been developed by technology start-up Hug Health, guides aged care nurses step-by step through the post fall assessment process.

The mobile and tablet app asks specific questions to prompt nurses to quickly and efficiently assess a fall, including if a resident has pain or change in movement.

Once all the information has been collected, the app provides advice, such as whether to suspect a fracture or an injury, contact a doctor or send the resident to hospital.

Lead researcher Dr Kate Scrivener said the initial three-month study was investigating the usability of the app for nurses at one aged care facility in Perth.

Dr Kate Scrivener

“We’re trying to find out how acceptable the app is to nurses, how useful it is, whether they think it improves their work practices and if it makes their daily life at work easier,” Dr Scrivener told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“We will find out the staffs’ opinions at the beginning of the research and then they will be involved in some training and a period where they’ll trial the app in their daily work practice. And then we’ll see how it impacted their work,” said Dr Scrivener, a senior lecturer at Macquarie University and neurological physiotherapy lead at Concentric Healthcare Services.

The next part of the study will explore the impact of the app through a trial where the outcomes will be compared between facilities using the app with those who are not.

SummaRise creator Daniel Hug said the goal was to standardise falls reviews and improve how falls are reviewed in aged care using the app.

“We want to be able to use a digital tool like this to prevent falls and be much better at reducing falls in aged care because at the moment, it’s poorly done, and I don’t think people are trained adequately enough,” Mr Hug told AAA.

Daniel Hug

“A tool like this can improve the quality of what we’re assessing and also teach and empower staff to feel more confident doing falls reviews,” said Mr Hug, a clinic team leader and physiotherapist with Concentric Healthcare Services.

Mr Hug said he began developing the app 18 months ago after a resident rolled out of bed on a Saturday morning and sustained a hip fracture.

“Sadly, since the assessment carried out by the nurse was not adequate, the fracture was missed for two days before she was assessed on the Monday morning. I wanted to find out how this could have happened and what can be done to stop it happening again,” Mr Hug said.

The app is also designed to help clinical nurse managers and facility managers assess patterns of falls in a facility over time to help prevent future falls.

Ideally the app will improve provider’s compliance for falls documentation and reduce falls, he said.

“We’re hoping that it’s going to result in a reduction in falls because you’re going to better manage falls and look at prevention, not just assessing and documenting,” he said.

The initial acceptability study is funded by in-kind contributions from Concentric Healthcare Services and Hug Health, which support Dr Scrivener’s and Mr Hug’s time on the research.

It is expected that future phases of the study will be open to aged care homes nationally.

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