16. July 2018
// Articles & Reports

Movement and fall prevention for the elderly

The geriatric centre Haus Berge in Essen works with compassion and modern concepts

From the moment you set eyes on it, the Haus Berge geriatric centre  in Essen-Borbeck is very welcoming. It is almost like a small neighbourhood of well-cared for buildings from various epochs gathered in the shadow of the two impressive church towers of St. Maria Rosenkranz. Haus Berge belongs to the nearby Elisabeth Hospital owned by the Contilia Group, which looks back on a proud tradition – and ahead to a promising future.

The foyer is a light-filled, modern hall. Metre-high, stained glass pictures of Saints Elizabeth and Teresa welcome the visitor upon entering. But go into the hallway to the left and one enters another architectural world:  The office of the care services manager, Maren Hermsen, is located here in a pleasantly cool, historic vault. Haus Berge, as Ms. Hermsen explains, was originally a medieval moated castle. The Merciful Sisters of Saint Elizabeth founded a clinic here in 1867. After it was destroyed in World War II, a hospital was built on the old foundation and it is now a speciality department in the Elisabeth hospital.

Focus on dementia

The geriatric centre for patients who are 70 years and older includes 94 inpatient beds with 3 intensive care spaces, an outpatient clinic with 15 spaces and the memory clinic – an outpatient memory unit where cognitive capabilities are tested. All typical geriatric disorders are treated here, such as falls, circulatory system diseases, infections and the consequences of diabetes. There is an extensive service for people with dementia. On this particular day, our focus is on the dementia unit. Here, patients are treated in an inpatient therapeutic environment. Carers, doctors, ergotherapists and physiotherapists as well as speech therapists treat fall injuries, optimise medication and nutrition, and help patients find a healthy day/night rhythm again.

Pflegedienstleiterin Maren Hermsen hat diese Station mit dem Klinikbett Seta brevo von Stiegelmeyer ausstatten lassen. Das für Haus Berge konfigurierte Modell zeichnet sich durch einen großen Verstellbereich von niedrigen 29 cm bis zu 71 cm, geteilte Seitensicherungen und ein Out-of-Bed-System mit Unterbettlicht aus.

Satisfying the urge to move about

The low beds assist carers in an important goal: therapy without restraint measures. “We do not use restraints,” says Ms. Hermsen. “My employees and I have been trained in the Werdenfelser approach in order to maintain the freedom and mobility of the patients.” The urge to move among people with dementia remains unchanged, and it is important that they can satisfy it. Every day spent motionless in bed or in a chair costs about one per cent of the muscle mass.

In this concept of providing freedom, good fall prevention is particularly important because the risks for dementia patients are considerable. Ms. Hermsen lists them: Balance and sensory system disturbances, muscular weakness, side effects from medication and slower blood pressure regulation which leads, for instance, to dizziness when getting up quickly. “Falls cannot be prevented in principle,” says the care services manager. But the risks can be lowered and the consequences made less severe. We go to visit the dementia unit with its light-filled, open rooms. It smells pleasantly of lunch. The patients have already gathered around a large table in the communal room. “They eat together at fixed times so that they can get used to a structured day again,” explains Ms. Hermsen.

Floors and walls in the unit are painted in friendly yellow hues – without dark surfaces, which could be seen as obstacles by the patients. Slates showing the name of the patients hang on the doors and over the beds. This is well received in the former mining town of Essen. An elderly gentleman proudly shows us his slate before he sits down comfortably on his bed.

Low bed advantages

Maren Hermsen explains the advantages of the Seta beds. “When patients get out of these low-height beds, their feet have direct contact with the floor. All the many nerve endings and receptors in the soles of the feet perceive this tactile sensation which helps them to orient themselves.”

The split safety sides of the Seta are often only raised at the head end during the night. This allows patients to enjoy the protection and still be able to get out of bed unhindered. “The safety sides actually help patients because they can easily hold on to them and pull themselves up,” says Ms. Hermsen.

Best possible working conditions

The beds, with their homelike wooden decor head and footboards, look particularly elegant and inviting in the friendly, light rooms . Maren Hermsen is currently testing another model from Stiegelmeyer: the mobilisation bed Vertica clinic, which can bring the patients gently to a full sitting position. Ms. Hermsen is hoping that this bed will be an additional relief for her care staff. It is important to her to offer all employees the best possible working conditions. The facility has an interactive presentation video that immediately inspires people to get to know this dedicated team. “At the moment, all carer positions are filled but I am already thinking about the future,” says Ms. Hermsen. That is why she also maintains close contact with the nursing schools in the area.

Our tour of the dementia unit ends in the chapel, which is just a few steps from the entrance. It is a space that envelopes the visitor like a sunny spring morning and exudes calmness. A cross made of light glows against a green wall, and room-high branches with gold-plated knotholes support the ceiling. “At first I thought that our patients wouldn’t even recognise this modern room as a chapel,” says Ms. Hermsen. “But they immediately felt what it was about and enjoy coming here.” A feeling of psycho-social well-being within the context of disease – Haus Berge does everything it can to achieve this. “To reach this goal and keep the patients as independent as possible in their daily routines, there needs to be sufficient physical activity and stable mobility,” says Ms. Hermsen.


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