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Publication points to need for prevention of falls in older people

5th September 2013

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

A recent publication from The King's Fund has suggested that half of the people in the UK aged over 80 fall at least once a year. Accompanied with the high financial costs of hospitalisation to the NHS and declining quality of life for those who have suffered a fall, this high chance of falling amongst older people presents a problem that is in urgent need of a solution. Preventive measures are needed to limit the number of falls that happen, which can be achieved with regular monitoring and aids such as walk in showers to create a safer home environment.

The publication by the King's Fund is entitled 'Exploring the system-wide costs of falls in older people in Torbay' and can be read here. As well as offering insight into the current number of falls that are occurring within Torbay, the study also details some of the costs that occur as a result and emphasises that these will only rise as the number of people aged over 80 increases.

According to the publication, one in three people aged over 65 and one in two people aged over 80 falls at least once a year, at a cost to the NHS of over £2 billion each year. The key finding of the study was that the cost of care after being discharged from hospital was significantly high; the hospital, social and community care costs for each patient in the 12 months following hospital admission from a fall is almost four times as much as the cost of the admission itself. Other figures from the study in Torbay demonstrate how dramatically the cost of social care for each elderly person can change after a fall has occurred; community care costs increased by 160 per cent when the 12 months before a fall were compared to the 12 months after a fall, whilst social care costs rose by 37% and acute hospital care costs rose by 35%. It is clear that the financial costs of a fall to the NHS are large, indicating that the people who have suffered such an accident are injured enough to see drastic changes in their lives, which clearly means they need more help to live independently.

This paper suggests that it would hugely benefit the NHS and local councils to invest in preventative measures to limit the number of falls that occur: something that will become increasingly important as the number of people aged over 65 is set to increase by two million by 2021. Solutions range from regular monitoring from volunteers and family members to the installation of handrails, stairlifts and more that can make getting round the home safer, and there are plenty more affordable options that the NHS could consider to limit the chances of those aged over 65 from falling.

Image Credit: quinn.anya (flickr.com)