Impact of Upgraded Lighting on Falls in Care Home Residents

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2022 Oct;23(10):1698-1704.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2022.06.013. Epub 2022 Jul 16.

Abstract

Objectives: Falls in care home residents have major health and economic implications. Given the impact of lighting on visual acuity, alertness, and sleep and their potential influence on falls, we aimed to assess the impact of upgraded lighting on the rate of falls in long-term care home residents.

Design: An observational study of 2 pairs of care homes (4 sites total). One site from each pair was selected for solid-state lighting upgrade, and the other site served as a control.

Setting and participants: Two pairs of care homes with 758 residents (126,479 resident-days; mean age (±SD) 81.0 ± 11.7 years; 57% female; 31% with dementia).

Methods: One "experimental" site from each pair had solid-state lighting installed throughout the facility that changed in intensity and spectrum to increase short-wavelength (blue light) exposure during the day (6 am-6 pm) and decrease it overnight (6 pm-6 am). The control sites retained standard lighting with no change in intensity or spectrum throughout the day. The number of falls aggregated from medical records were assessed over an approximately 24-month interval. The primary comparison between the sites was the rate of falls per 1000 resident-days.

Results: Before the lighting upgrade, the rate of falls was similar between experimental and control sites [6.94 vs 6.62 falls per 1000 resident-days, respectively; rate ratio (RR) 1.05; 95% CI 0.70-1.58; P = .82]. Following the upgrade, falls were reduced by 43% at experimental sites compared with control sites (4.82 vs 8.44 falls per 1000 resident-days, respectively; RR 0.57; 95% CI 0.39-0.84; P = .004).

Conclusions and implications: Upgrading ambient lighting to incorporate higher intensity blue-enriched white light during the daytime and lower intensity overnight represents an effective, passive, low-cost, low-burden addition to current preventive strategies to reduce fall risk in long-term care settings.

Keywords: Lighting; aging; care homes; falls; falls prevention; melanopic.