Switch to decaf slashes toilet-related falls

A switch to decaffeinated hot drinks has cut toilet-related falls in care homes by 35%.

The six-month trial at eight care homes has been published in a report by Care England, Stow Healthcare and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL). 

Professor Martin Green, chief executive at Care England, said: “Falls have a detrimental impact on thousands of older people every year, not to mention the knock-on cost to the NHS. When we first heard about the results of UHL’s decaf trial in a hospital setting, the potential benefits for social care were immediately clear.

“For such a simple, cost-neutral solution to have such a profound impact is extraordinary. With a huge national focus on reducing pressure on the NHS, this pioneering trial demonstrates that simple solutions can help address enormous challenges. Care England is delighted to have been involved in this project and would encourage care providers across the country to give decaf a go!” 

The trial followed a similar initiative by UHL in 2021. Noticing that many hospital patients were falling on the way to the toilet, continence nurse specialist Sarah Coombes suggested switching to decaffeinated drinks to reduce bladder and bowel urgency in those with an overactive bladder or incontinence. Within three months, toileting-related falls in the hospital were down by 30%. 

It is estimated that a switch to decaf across the sector would save the NHS £85 million in prevented falls and hospital admissions.

Ruth French, director at Stow Healthcare, said: “The decaf project has been eye-opening for all of us at Stow Healthcare. Our residents and staff have been fully engaged in this project from the moment we launched. To achieve a falls reduction of 35% connected to going to the loo is a significant finding for us all in social care. The impact of a serious fall can have devastating consequences, and finding simple ways such as decaf drinks that might reduce this risk is ground-breaking. We hope it will inspire everyone in social care to take up the challenge!” 

Nadia Roberts, brand manager at NESCAFÉ B2B by Nestlé Professional, said: “We are delighted to have played our part in this innovative trial by supplying decaffeinated coffee to Stow Healthcare’s services.” 

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