Falls rates dropping thanks to dedicated team of specialists

Front row from left: Gralyn Gittins, Cindy Cox, Suzanne Parker
Top row from left: Richard Fullerton, Jovan Jose and Oliver Crane

A DEDICATED team of NHS professionals is helping people who have had a fall back on their feet.

The team, from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is made up of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses, technical instructors and administrative staff, all with the aim of reducing falls and making people aware of how to prevent them.

Across the UK every year 280,000 people end up in A&E after a fall, costing the NHS £1.5billion

If everyone in the UK aged 65 and older at risk of falling was referred to physiotherapy specialists, (or more specifically a falls service,) 160,000 falls would be prevented, potentially saving the NHS £250million every year

Team leader, Suzanne Parker, is a qualified physiotherapist. She said: “We have a service called ‘Steady On’ and this involves speaking to the public and informing them on how to prevent further falls and to train other professionals who work closely with patients. This can include a care home setting.

“This is the backbone of our service and we want to educate as many people as possible about the importance of reducing the risk of falls.”

Falls can cost the NHS billions of pounds a year- due to longer hospital admissions and now this team can provide the service to patients away from the hospital.

Suzanne Parker delivering a Tai Chi session

The team can advise on equipment for patients and champion staff in care homes to feel confident in recognising and responding to falls.

The risk of falls does increase for patients over the age of 65.

Suzanne added: “Falls often require basic changes and this can apply to people who are in their own homes or in residential care.

“We receive around 50 referrals each week and this requires us to complete an action plan to help with further therapy. We often have to complete detective work to find out why a person has had a fall!

“People can have falls for a variety of reasons. This can range from strength and balance problems to the footwear people are using.

“We provide people with advice around their physical environment and to be aware of seasonal changes, and range our advice accordingly. We are able to speak to GPs and refer on to other services.

“Our team has a Falls Management Programme which runs for eight weeks and aims to help our patients build confidence.

“Our patients can access activities such as Tai Chi and practicing pole walking to enable better balance and more confidence.

“We have made links with the YMCA for patients to enrol with activities once they have completed the programme.

“It’s important for people to feel empowered and for them to make friends.

“The feedback has been fantastic and the post survey feedback after the programme states 98% success rate.

“There is a huge link between dementia and falls and we are trying to educate people around this. People can have a lack of confidence and a fear of falling which can actually result in losing muscle and becoming isolated which can lead to further falls.

“After the first fall, patients are three times as likely to fall again and we are working hard to improve this.”

To speak to the team about the services they provide please contact Suzanne on Ext 955100

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