Falls can be serious in older people and some people are less able to recover well, which can lead to serious injuries, admission to hospital or a move into long-term care.
A £100,000 grant has been secured by Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership (GM ICP) and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) which they believe will help to reduce hospital admissions.
And thanks to a new data-driven approach by these two bodies – unveiled during Falls Prevention Awareness Week (18-22 September) – it will be possible to intervene earlier and help to identify those who are most at risk.
By taking advantage of increased sharing of patient data across the health and care system, Greater Manchester Falls Collaborative – set up and tasked by GMCA and GM ICP with improving how falls are prevented or treated – will be able to pinpoint where pre-emptive support could make a real impact.
Warren Heppolette, chief officer for strategy & innovation at NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care, said: “Each year thousands of people in Greater Manchester fall and injure themselves and this can have a detrimental impact on their physical and mental health and wellbeing, sometimes permanently.
“Many falls, or the effects of those falls, might have been prevented with timely intervention, and this new project aims to do just that.
“The Greater Manchester Care Record has been a great success in joining up patient information from NHS and care services in order to help frontline health and care workers to save lives, and we expect it will repeat this success with our falls prevention work.
“Now, just as the colder months start, we are able to use this information to ensure we can reduce the needless falls which rank as the second leading cause of death and disability among older adults nationally, behind road traffic incidents.”
A plan to roll out the programme to the whole of Greater Manchester will take place following initial focus on Wigan, where health and care leaders will work to bring down the borough’s hospital admissions rates, which are among the highest in the city-region.
Greater Manchester Falls Collaborative will look to build on the achievements of initiatives like Wigan Council’s Be Well programme, which looks to reduce the risk of falls by providing opportunities for people to improve their balance and bone health as well as increase their muscle strength.
John, a 76-year-old man from Appley Bridge who has suffered falls, has benefitted from the strength and balance classes provided as part of the Be Well programme.
He said: “I enjoy it (the classes) a lot, I enjoy the variations for people of all abilities.
“I’m nowhere near where I used to be (since the falls), but the class allows me to attempt to build back to where I once was.
“The instructors are fully supportive and provide great variation in the way the class operates. Similar exercises taught in different ways can make the class more engaging and can only benefit us participants.”
Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett, GMCA lead for Healthy Lives and Homelessness and co-chair of the NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership Board, said: “Prevention of falls is a priority for us in Greater Manchester. By working together and adopting a new, data-driven approach we aim to reduce the number of falls among older adults in our city-region.
“Falls are a significant public health concern and a major contributor to the transition from independent life to long-term nursing or residential care. Through collaborative action, we can provide timely intervention and support to high-risk individuals before falls occur.
“Greater Manchester Falls Collaborative was established in January of last year to reduce the number of falls in our city-region and this new project is a further demonstration of our commitment to tackling the problem. We all have a role to play.”
Falls Prevention Awareness Week serves as a reminder of the importance of proactive action when it comes to reducing falls among older adults.
As part of the week, Greater Manchester will be hosting a series of bitesize learning sessions from Monday 18 September to Friday 22 September between 12pm-1pm for those working in falls-related fields, interested in falls prevention or with lived experience of falls.
People taking part will learn about the latest research in falls prevention and medicine, and be able to witness case studies from a number of localities showcasing their approach and projects.
To find details of the sessions and how to book onto them, visit here.
In the meantime, Age UK* has the following top tips for how people can avoid falls later in life:
- Exercise to improve balance
- Ask your GP practice for a medication review if you are feeling more dizzy or worried about your balance
- Have regular eyesight and hearing tests (problems with eyes and ears can cause balance problems)
- Choose and wear the right shoes
- Check your home for trip hazards such as rugs or objects near stairs, or uneven surfaces.