UHMBT backs national Falls Awareness Week

Clinicians across UHMBT will be sharing information and advice about falls prevention during national Falls Awareness Week from Monday 18 September to Friday 22 September 2023.

Falls Awareness Week is an annual event designed to help prevent older and frail people from suffering falls. UHMBT does a huge amount of work to prevent falls as the safety of patients is a key priority for the Trust. Falls prevention is also a key quality improvement focus.

Figures from NHS England show that around one in three adults over the age of 65 and half of people over the age of 80 will have at least one fall a year. Falls can often result in fractures, head injuries and lead to serious problems such as loss of mobility, loss of independence and even death.

At UHMBT falls awareness and prevention of deconditioning in patients are of paramount importance because falls and fractures in older and frail people are often preventable.

Mark Morgan, Registered Nurse and Fundamentals of Care Practitioner at UHMBT, said: “Deconditioning in patients often begins as soon as they are admitted. Loss of muscle due to inactivity makes older patients more vulnerable to falls.”

Jaja Payopilin, also a Registered Nurse and Fundamentals of Care Practitioner at UHMBT, said: “Keeping patients motivated and moving is of huge benefit to recovery and prevention of falls.”

As part of its falls prevention work, UHMBT is backing the national #EndPJparalysis campaign to value patients’ time and help more people to live the richest, fullest lives possible by reducing immobility, muscle deconditioning and dependency as well as protecting cognitive function, social interaction and dignity.

One of the major impacts of the #EndPJparalysis campaign has been the focus on both the individual and the organisational impact of ‘staying in bed’.

To watch a video about joining the #EndPJparalysis movement, please click here: https://endpjparalysis.org/join/

The Fundamentals of Care team will be launching the ‘De-conditioning is Real’ awareness video for the campaign and can be seen here by clicking on this link.

The Trust will also be sharing information on its social media accounts with the hashtags: #FallsAwarenessWeek #ThinkFalls #DeConditioningIsReal.

Age UK also has some very useful information on falls prevention here: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/exercise/falls-prevention/

More information on falls prevention from NHS England

There are ways you can reduce your risk of having a fall, including making simple changes to your home and doing exercises to improve your strength and balance.

If you have fallen in the past, making changes to reduce your chances of having a fall can also help you overcome any fear of falling.

Some older people may be reluctant to seek help and advice from a GP and other support services about preventing falls because they believe their concerns will not be taken seriously.

But all healthcare professionals take falls in older people very seriously because of the significant impact they can have on a person’s health.

Discuss any falls you have had with a GP and say if it’s had any impact on your health and wellbeing.

The GP can carry out some simple balance tests to check whether you’re at an increased risk of falling in the future. They can also refer you to useful services in your local area.

Avoiding falls at home

Tips for preventing falls in the home include:

  • immediately mopping up spillages
  • removing clutter, trailing wires and frayed carpet
  • using non-slip mats and rugs
  • making sure all rooms, passages and staircases are well lit
  • organising your home so that climbing, stretching and bending are kept to a minimum, and to avoid bumping into things
  • getting help to do things you’re unable to do safely on your own
  • not walking on slippery floors in socks or tights
  • not wearing loose-fitting, trailing clothes that might trip you up
  • wearing well-fitting shoes that are in good condition and support the ankle
  • taking care of your feet by trimming your toenails regularly and seeing a GP or podiatrist (foot health professional) about any foot problems
  • Strength and balance training
  • Doing regular strength exercises and balance exercises can improve your strength and balance, and reduce your risk of having a fall. This can take the form of simple activities such as walking and dancing, or specialist training programmes.

Many community centres and local gyms offer specialist training programmes for older people.

Exercises that can be carried out at home are also available. Ask a GP about training programmes in your area.

It’s important that a strength and balance training programme is tailored to the individual and monitored by an appropriately trained professional.

There’s also evidence that taking part in regular tai chi sessions can reduce the risk of falls. Tai chi is a Chinese martial art that places particular emphasis on movement, balance and co-ordination.

Unlike other martial arts, tai chi does not involve physical contact or rapid physical movements, making it an ideal activity for older people.

Read more about physical activity guidelines for older adults

Sight tests

Look after your eyes and make an appointment to have a sight test if you’re concerned that vision loss (even when wearing glasses) is increasing your risk of having a fall.

Not all vision problems can be cured, but some problems can be treated with surgery – for example, cataracts can be removed using cataract surgery.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can lead to loss of co-ordination and exaggerate the effects of some medicines.

This can significantly increase the risk of a fall, particularly in older people.

Avoiding alcohol or reducing the amount you drink can reduce your risk of having a fall.

Excessive drinking can also contribute to the development of osteoporosis.


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