Falling over at home is the number one cause for accidental death among older people in Scotland, and the number one cause of unplanned hospital admissions.
However, a new initiative launched in Glasgow has changed the way patients are treated after a fall. Now, through the ‘Falls Prevention Programme’ patients are offered a full range of support services, from occupational therapy, physiotherapy and exercises classes to money advice, psychology and even a handy person service.
The programme is so successful it receives over 180 referrals a month and has now been rolled out across Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
One patient who has benefited from the programme is Agnes Quinn. Agnes is 69 years old and last year had a couple of falls, one inside her home and scarily, one outside. She had lost her confidence and was worried it would happen again.
Agnes was referred to the programme through her GP and she has never looked back. Not only is she gaining her confidence again through exercise classes, the team quickly assessed she could do with some additional aid at home. The team arranged for the installation of a fall alarm, designed to be activated quickly if Agnes does have another fall at home, some handrails and some bathroom aids to ensure Agnes felt comfortable in her own home.
Agnes says she loves the weekly exercise classes and cannot believe the different they have made to her life. She added: “As well as relaxing me, the classes strengthen my joints and help my balance. They have also given me my confidence back.
“I hope to keep going as long as I can and would encourage anyone who is recommended for one of these classes to attend. It really does make a big difference.”
Julie Cunningham from the Community Falls Prevention Programme is delighted the initiative has become so successful and wants other health staff and patients to know about the wide range of support services the programme offers.
She said: “We want to make patients aware that the service is available to support them and offer them a helping hand when they leave hospital.
“The aim of the programme is to prevent people having further falls by providing a comprehensive falls screening service, health education, exercise, rehabilitation and inward referral.
”We work with other health staff on the frontline to identify any patient who may benefit from the programme and do all we can to make sure they get the support they need.”
Notes to Editors
Many falls can be prevented and the following simple tips can help avoid accidental falls.
Keep Active - keeping physically active by walking, swimming or cycling will help build stamina.
Eat Healthily - eat a good varied diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to keep energy levels high and bones and muscles strong.
Keep Homes as Safe as Possible - arrange electrical appliances close to the socket rather than having a long flex. Make sure carpets and rugs and securely fixed. Be toidy, store items where they can be easily reached and make sure halls and stairs are brightly lit.
Be Aware of Any Health Changes - have regular eye tests and wear glasses if they needed. Regular visits to a podiatrist will deal with any problems with feet. Get ear infections checked quickly and do not stop taking any prescribed medication without consulting a GP.
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