A gait belt is a fall prevention device used by CNA’s for fall prevention in nursing homes. It sometimes referred to as a “safety belt” by lay persons.There are a number of variations, but the most common kind is a durable canvas or cloth strap that is applied around the waist of a nursing home resident while they are being assisted with walking. After the belt is applied, the CNA is supposed to grasp the back of the belt firmly while walking alongside and slightly behind the resident. If the resident loses his or her balance, the CNA can use the belt to bring the resident under control and either prevent the fall or bring the fall under control so that the resident is not injured when they hit the ground.
It is not an acceptable alternative to hold onto the resident’s arm or clothing.
Neither gives the CNA the same degree of control over the resident when a fall starts to happen, and there are heightened risks of injury as compared to using a gait belt. For example, clothing could tear or a residents shoulder may be dislocated if the CNA is not using a gait belt.
A gait belt is a simple but effective piece of equipment to help prevent nursing home falls.
Failing to use a gait belt while assisting a resident who needs help walking is a legitimate basis for a nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit.