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Red walking aids

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Patients with dementia or inattention (e.g. following stroke) can struggle to remember to use a walking aid prescribed by physiotherapists to enable safe mobility. This can result in increased falls, as patients mobilise without their aids. A simple solution is to provide a red walking aid; the colour contrasts with the surroundings and draws the patient’s attention to the aid, prompting them to use it for mobilising.

There are no articles on this, possibly as it is hard to prove a causal link between red frames and reduced falls? I am looking for evidence (subjective or objective) for the use of red walking aids to increase patient's independent use of aid, and reduce falls in patients with dementia. I hope to promote the prescription of these within my trust, wherein they are currently classed as a special order, but I also want to spread the word as none of my colleagues had heard of them! Many thanks, Susanna

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Hi all

Not specifically walking Aids but OTs regularly use red grabrails ,red  raised toilet seats and advise families and Service Users on the  importance of ‘definition ‘ / use of colour in for example a completely white bathroom to make it safe for people with dementia .

A case in point was a man whose lounge had been recently redecorated in only cream and white which caused him to fall frequently ..it was explained to his family how important definition of  the area with different colours ( eg. Different colour settee /, flooring , curtains was and the changes made had a significant impact on the number of falls to almost none from frequently falling .

Another case in point was a chap who had had his bathroom refurbished with all white ‘furniture ‘ and he kept missing the toilet and weeing on the floor .. a different colour toilet seat meant he no longer weed on the floor.

So some very powerful examples .. hope this helps

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We have purchased some red zimmers through charitable funds and are using them on one of our rehab wards. I am struggling to find a way of demonstrating that they make a difference. We are trying to be selective and find patients that are agitated and likely to stand up alone without pressing their call bell. However, they are invariably in cohort bays and someone immediately attends to them. Or they may have dementia but are not agitated, and therefore walk with whatever is made available to them. 
I have spoken to the equipment service, and basically we need to demonstrate the benefit and also need to order the equipment more often for it to become standard and not a "special". However, people don't know to order red equipment, and so they are not ordered often enough!
I have attached the only article I had found.
Someone also said to me that they didn't think red was the right colour as it signifies danger!
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Hi all

We are in the process of applying for funding through our Love your Hospital Charity to enable us to trial red frames in our care of the elderly and dementia friendly wards.

Our physio team in acute admissions purchased a very small number of red frames to do a mini-trial but we feel that something more robust would be beneficial.  Anecdotally, we have noticed that some patients were drawn to the contrasting frame when mobilising but have identified that the coloured frames will need to be available for the patient to take home on discharge for continuity.

As I'm sure you're aware, there is no literature out there about red/coloured frames and we are eager change that!

Looking forward to hearing back from you.

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I asked this question a little while back. As there is evidence of using colour for bathrooms etc to aid those with dementia. The trust I work in did have a programme with OT’s decorating frames but unfortunately it was not audited and they could not provide any evidence. I have seen the red frames and it is something I may look at again in the future with the falls champions.

I would be interested if there is any response.

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Rachel Daykin, Lead Specialist Nurse for Dementia at Kent Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is currently working on a QI project with Samantha, a physiotherapist. 

"We are in the early stages of a project to examine whether providing patients with dementia coloured mobility aids improve their ability to use them appropriately. We are using the colour red.

I have previously worked with patients living with dementia in care home and day service settings where WZF were personalised so that they were easily recognised, however in the current climate we are more aware than ever of infection prevention control.

I hope that this information is useful and we  would be more than happy to share the outcome of our project."

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There are a number of initiatives for walking frames.

Medway NHS Foundation Trust have teamed up with their orthotics department to use Funky Frames. Staff can order a Funky Frame kit which contains the yellow lagging and various coloured tape. It can be removed once the patient is discharged. 


And users at Coverage Care’s Woodcroft home in Market Drayton have been personalising their walking aids by spray painting them different colours including pink, orange, blue and purple or decorating them with stickers so they can easily identify their own frame.


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