Feb 212019

David Murphy, Programme Advisor – Falls & Frailty, tells us about Falls Awareness Week 2019

Did you know that from Monday 18th February through to Friday 22nd February it is Falls Awareness Week in Wales, sponsored by Care & Repair Cymru, Age Cymru and Age Connects. At 1000 Lives Improvement, Public Health Wales the Falls and Frailty team are lending our support to the campaign and have been encouraged by the wide interest and support of colleagues from across NHS Wales and Welsh Government.

What is a Fall?
A fall is an unwanted event whereby an individual comes to rest inadvertently, either on the ground, or lower level with or without loss of consciousness. (NICE Clinical Guidance 2013)

Are Falls a Common Problem?

Yes. Falls place a significant demand on health and social care services, as well as the third sector in Wales. People aged 65 and older have the highest risk of falling, with 30% of people older than 65 and 50% of people older than 80 falling at least once a year. In Wales alone, an estimated 122,000 older people will fall more than once in their home with around 7,000 ending up in hospital. This creates additional demands on Ambulance Services and Hospital Staff.

The Cost of Falling

Most significantly, the human cost of falling includes distress, pain, injury, loss of confidence, loss of independence and mortality. Falling also affects the family members and carers of people who fall.

Falls have been estimated to cost the NHS alone more than £2.3 billion per year in the UK (NICE 2013). Using a simple population based estimated this could equate to around £110 million for NHS Wales. Therefore, falling has an impact on quality of life, health and healthcare costs as well as impacting on the wider community and economy.

A National Taskforce

That is why a National Falls Prevention Taskforce was established just over 2 years ago, supported by 1000 Lives Improvement in Public Health Wales. The Taskforce focuses on primary falls prevention and management with the ambition to reduce the number of falls experienced by older people in Wales. The national falls prevention campaign is entitled ‘Steady On, Stay Safe’. It incorporates interventions around the 3 Pillars of Strength and Balance Training, Capturing Falls History and Tackling Environmental Factors in order to prevent avoidable harm.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) note that physical inactivity is a major public health problem and something that needs to be prioritised. For the CSP campaign check out #LoveActivityHateExercise

Launching Falls Awareness Week

Neil Williams of Care and Repair Cymru is the Taskforce Chairman. In a recent article in the Western Mail to launch Falls Awareness Week he noted that falls should not be seen as an inevitable part of growing old. This year’s campaign targets Welsh GP Practices providing leaflets and posters with common sense advice and signposting to relevant services. Some of the key messages to prevent falls include checking that footwear is appropriate and well fitting, ensuring medication is reviewed, testing eye sight, maintaining a healthy diet and stay hydrated. For further information you can follow the link to view the Falls Prevention Resource Hub: http://www.ageingwellinwales.com/en/resource-hub/fp-resources

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