New Falls Prevention & Management Tools

A Scottish conference on Falls Prevention was brought to a standstill today (Wednesday 30 September) when a group of older people performed a flash mob dance to 80s Banarama pop hit “It Ain’t What You Do (Its The Way That You Do It)”.

The group, from one of North Lanarkshire Leisure’s Strength and Balance Exercise Classes, popped into the Falls Study Event for Occupational Therapists at West HQ, Scottish Fire and Rescue, Hamilton to help promote the launch of a range of innovative digital tools, advice and information to help keep Scotland’s older generation steady on their feet.

Falls among the over 65s are a leading cause of A & E attendance, account for 390,000 plus emergency bed days and represent the largest single presentation for ambulance responses, with over 45,000 calls each year involving a fall from an over 65 person. Falls costs Scotland more than £471 million every year.

The falls prevention and management tools offer a wealth of information and advice as well as simple exercises to support older people at home.

They include a Falls Information Zone, created on NHS inform (www.nhsinform/falls) and a Self Assessment Tool and Person Held File (livingitup.org.uk/smartcare) as well as the Care Coordination Calendar (www.pilotsmartcare.uk) which have been developed as part of the SmartCare programme

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Shona Robison, said:

“Falls are a serious problem for many older people in Scotland. As well as accounting for a huge number of A&E attendances and ambulance call-outs, a fall can be a life-changing event for an older person – often triggering a downward spiral of loss of confidence and independence, leading to an increased need for health and social care services.

“However, falls are not an inevitable consequence of old age. Through timely and effective intervention, we have the opportunity to prevent a significant proportion of falls and to ensure that when they do occur, people are supported to retain or restore their independence.”

“The launch of these new online tools will help people access the advice and support they need to lead healthier, longer and independent lives at home. Today’s flash mob is a perfect demonstration of the fact we can all lead active lives well in to older age! Sometimes all people need is the right information, support and encouragement.”

Across Scotland there is multi—agency work underway to tackle the problem of falls. Health and social care services are working with partners in the third and independent sectors, the Scottish Ambulance Service and Scottish Fire and Rescue to improve the prevention and management of falls. This includes ensuring people are referred into local falls prevention teams and their telecare/community alarm services.

Professor George Crooks, Medical Director, NHS 24, said:

“Scotland is recognised worldwide as a leader in innovative technology enabled health and care services and products. Digital support is already making a real difference to the quality of life of older people. By empowering users and carers to actively manage their own health, care and wellbeing, they can continue to maintain their own independence, safely.”

The falls prevention and management tools have been developed by NHS 24, in partnership with the Scottish Government’s National Falls Programme, health, social care and third sector organisations, as well as members of the public and industry.

Speaking at today’s event, Tracy MacInnes, Acting Chief Health Professions Officer, Scottish Government, added:

“It is so important to dispel the myth that falls are inevitable as we get older. With some simple measures such as supporting more older people to undertake regular strength and balance exercises, go for regular eye checks, look after their feet and safety check their homes, many falls could be prevented each year. It is important that we ensure people are supported to live at home or in a homely setting for as long as possible.”

Background

The Falls Information Zone, developed by the Scottish Government’s National Falls Programme, working with NHS 24, Academia, Health and Social Care and the Third Sector, has been created on Scotland’s national health information website NHS inform (www.nhsinform/falls).

The Self Assessment Tool and Person Held File (livingitup.org.uk/smartcare) as well as the Care Coordination Calendar (www.pilotsmartcare.uk) have been developed as part of the SmartCare programme, led by NHS 24 and working in partnership with seven local health and care partnerships in Ayrshire & Arran, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire.