April marks the start of the annual April Falls campaign, which aims to help prevent falls in older people in hospital, at home and in the community. The campaign is being promoted by the Health Quality & Safety Commission, district health boards and other providers of health services for our older people.
‘In 2015, nearly 220,000 people over 50 made a claim to ACC for an injury related to a fall, and nearly 26,000 were admitted to hospital because of a fall,’ says Sandy Blake, National Clinical Lead for the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s Reducing Harm from Falls Programme - these are big numbers, and represent pain, immobility and inconvenience for a large number of people.’
‘The effects of a fall on older people are most serious. Only half of those over 80 who survive a hip fracture will walk unaided again, and many will not regain their former degree of mobility.
‘Between 10 and 20 percent will be admitted to aged residential care as a result of the fracture. Very sadly, 27 percent of those over 80 will die within a year of their hip fracture.’
She says there is also good news.
‘Between 1 July 2013 and 31 December 2016, there were 85 fewer in-hospital falls resulting in fractured hips. These results are important because hip fracture is the most common serious fall-related injury in those over 80 years old.’
To help reduce falls in the home, ACC has a simple checklist to identify hazards.
These include checking rugs are non-slip or they are secured to the floor, keeping cords and wires away from walkways or taped down and ensuring stairs and walkways are well-lit with easy to grip handrails.