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How to Prevent Falls at Home

A person with a developmental disability under the age of 65 years, may be eligible for assistance through government programs to help cover the cost of specialized footwear, walking aids and other safety devices. For example, in Ontario apply for funding via Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). ODSP will coordinate with the Adapted Devices Program (ADP) through the Ministry of Health to provide funding. Once over the age of 65 years, applications go to the ADP program directly. Assistance is provided by the therapist/supplier or alternatively a Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist from a local hospital or clinic. In Ontario a Doctor’s referral to the local Community Care Access Center would connect you with the local community supports.

Here are some helpful tips that could help prevent falls in the home:

  • Install proper lighting throughout the home. Pay close attention to stairs and bathrooms. Use night lights in the hallways, particularly between bedroom and the bathroom.
  • Keep floors and stairs free of clutter.
  • Wear proper foot wear. Shoes, boots and slippers should provide good support and have good soles. Avoid loose slippers or stocking feet.
  • Use walking aids and other safety devices for extra safety. If using a cane or walker, make sure that it is the right height and that the rubber tips are not worn.
  • Have at least one handrail on all stairways and steps in the house. Ensure that the handrails are securely attached and in good repair.

How to Prevent Falls on the stairs

A person with a developmental disability may have additional perceptual issues that can increase the likelihood of falls. A clear diagnosis with specific guidelines and recommendations will ensure the proper adaptations unique to the particular individual. Support and supervision may be required to ensure safety.

  • Make sure there is proper lighting (there should be a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Ensure that you are not wearing your reading glasses. If using bifocals, adjust them so that you can see the stairs clearly,
  • Wear proper foot wear. Avoid using loose slippers or stocking feet.
  • Check that the steps are in good repair and are slip-resistant. Fix promptly if there are broken or uneven stairs.
  • Paint or use a contrasting coloured tape on the edge of stairs to enhance the visibility of each step.
  • Ensure that handrails are securely attached and in good repair.
  • Remove any loose stair or floor coverings. If you must have a rug make sure it has a non-slip/rubber backing.
  • Remove any clutter from the stairs or landing. Avoid storing items temporarily on the stairs.
  • If carrying something, make sure it’s not too large to hide the view of the stairs and that one hand is free to use the handrail.
  • Take the stairs slowly one step at a time. Do not rush; it is one of the major causes of falls.— 12 steps to stair safety at home

How to Prevent Falls in the Shower or Bathtub

There is often funding available for assistive devices, home modifications/renovations and vehicle modifications if the eligibility criteria is reached. In Ontario, the local Community Care Access Center can provide assistance in assessing and recommending the appropriate aids and renovations and in funding applications. Please refer to the links section of the document for further information.

  • Install safety devices
    1. grab bars (in shower/ bath tub and toilet area)
    2. shower chairs
    3. hand held shower head
    4. raised toilet seat
    5. toilet seat rail
  • Ensure that the bathtub plug is easy to reach and to use.
  • Use a full-length rubber bathtub mat for every bath or shower.
  • Ensure the rug outside of the tub or shower has a rubber backing.
  • Use portable grab bars or install wall mount grab bars to help with getting in and out of the tub/shower.
  • Use a bath seat with rubber tips on the legs.
  • Use a hand held shower head and a long hand brush.
  • Ask for help if you have difficulty getting into and out of the bathtub or shower.
  • Use a raised toilet seat with hand rails if you have problems sitting or getting up from the toilet.

*Some aids or devices are designed specifically for an individual and should be recommended by the consulting specialist. March of Dimes Home and Vehicle modification Programme and funding

Local Health Integrated Network (LHIN) provides a wide-range of health-care services and resources to support you at home, at school or in the community. Canadian Mortgage and Housing Programme Home Renovation funding for Seniors and People with Disabilities.


  • Active Independent Aging – A community guide for falls prevention and Active living –
    Activity tool 1. Use your sea legs in the bathroom!
  • Public Health Agency of Canada handout – If you fall or witness a fall, do you know what to do?
  • Active Independent Aging – A community guide for falls prevention and Active living – Handout 1. A guide to preventing Falls

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