Helping older people living in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire to stay steady on their feet is a key priority for the region’s NHS.
Falling at an older age can have serious health implications, both in the immediate and longer term, which is why local NHS teams are using Falls Prevention Week to highlight ways to tackle this often-avoidable injury.
The week-long awareness-raising event takes place each year, with the 2023 instalment running until Friday 22 September, and is an opportunity for staff and patients alike to learn more about falls.
In Bath and North East Somerset, a dedicated falls car has been introduced to the region’s roads to help clinicians from HCRG Care Group and South Western Ambulance Service to respond as quickly as possible when a fall takes place.
Care homes in Swindon, meanwhile, will be encouraging residents to channel their inner Olympian in preparation for the inaugural Swindon Senior Games, which is a 12-week programme of activity sessions designed to maintain and enhance balance and mobility.
Elsewhere, in Wiltshire, a pilot project is currently under way to provide care homes with specially adapted chairs, which can help residents to get up safely after a fall.
Gill May, Chief Nurse, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “These schemes and initiatives are just the tip of the iceberg, as there are all sorts of different things happening right across our region to prevent falls.
“We know these injuries can be traumatic, and we know that older people who suffer falls often go on to develop other health issues, which sometimes require a hospital stay or special at-home care.
“Stopping falls from happening is a key for us, and this notion goes hand in hand with our vision of becoming a health service that truly prioritises prevention so that people can live longer, happier and healthier lives.”
At a national level, falls are thought to be the most common injury that results in death for people aged 65 and over.
Each year, care and treatment relating to falls costs the NHS more than £2 billion, which is equivalent to a daily spend of approximately £6 million.
People can reduce their risk of having a fall by carrying out a number of simple, yet effective, actions around the home, such as immediately mopping up spillages, removing clutter and wearing well-fitting shoes or slippers.
Help can also be obtained by speaking to a GP, who may recommend a programme of simple strength and balance exercises which can be done at home.