New Falls Prevention Service for at-risk older people in Oldham

Oldham Falls Prevention Team -intranetA new service aimed at reducing falls among older people has been launched in Oldham.

The Falls Prevention Service, run by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, offers assessments to people over the age of 65 who have experienced a fall in the past 12 months.

Specialist staff carry out an assessment to find out what caused the person to fall and service users are offered support to reduce the likelihood of another fall.

This usually includes a visit to their home to see if there are any hazards that can be reduced.

Where appropriate physiotherapy or exercise classes are recommended to help build up muscle strength and improve balance.

The Falls Prevention Service works in partnership with Age UK and Oldham Community Leisure to promote falls prevention to older people and jointly run exercise classes specifically designed for those at risk of falls at various locations across the borough.

Oldham Falls Prevention Lead for Pennine Care, Helen Ashton, said the dedicated service would help to reduce hospital admissions by preventing repeat falls and improve the quality of life for people who had suffered a recent fall.

She said: “Experiencing a fall can be a very frightening experience, particularly for older people who are at an increased risk of serious injury.

“By identifying the causes of previous falls and offering practical support and advice in their own homes we can help them regain their confidence and reduce the likelihood of them falling again.

"The service aims to be preventative and welcomes referrals even if a patient has fallen only once.  The hope is this prevents further falls injury and frailty." 

The new service is staffed by physiotherapists and occupational therapists. People can be referred to the service by a GP or other health professional.

The Falls Prevention Service is commissioned by Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group and Oldham Council.

Alan Higgins, Director of Public Health, Oldham Council, said “It is estimated that about one in three people over the age of 65 will fall each year – that’s about 9,000 people in Oldham each year. Falls are the largest cause of emergency hospital admissions for older people and can also lead to a loss of confidence and reduce independence.

“Oldham Council is working with Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group to help to support older people who are at risk of falls. The new specialist fall service is key in helping us to help older people to remain active and able to continue living at home.”

Dr Shelley Grumbridge, Oldham GP and Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group’s Clinical Director for Urgent Care, said: “In many cases there are simple things that can be done to prevent older people from having a fall or to help to prevent further falls.

“Common causes of falls include inappropriate footwear, trip hazards in the home, poor muscle strength, problems with balance, or undiagnosed medical conditions such as Postural Hypertension - a sudden drop in blood pressure when standing up which can cause dizziness. 

“If you have had a recent fall or are worried about falling, see your GP. They will be able to discuss your concerns with you, look for the common causes and if necessary refer you to the specialist falls service”

For more information on the service visit www.penninecare.nhs.uk/oldhamfallsprevention/