latest health care news

12.06.13

NICE produces guidance to avoid thousands of falls

Last year over 200,000 older people suffered from falls in NHS hospitals, new statistics show. Of these, 50,000 cases resulted in injury, including nearly 900 severe injuries affecting the head or hip. 90 patients died from their injuries.

NICE has produced new guidance, replacing the former guideline 21 from November 2004, to help protect patients at risk. Staff should assume that every patient aged 65 and over, and all those over 50 who suffer from dementia, vision or hearing problems, or who have had a stroke, should be considered at risk.

These patients should be assessed and given advice on using mobility equipment or issued non-slip slippers, the guidance suggests.

The extra cost of caring for patients who have suffered a fall is estimated at £2.4bn.

Prof Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: 

“Falling over is a serious problem in hospitals, and unfortunately their likelihood increases with age as people become frailer.”

“They can cause distress, pain, injury, a loss of confidence and independence, and in some cases, death.”

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, said: “The consequences of a fall in later life can be physically and emotionally devastating, potentially resulting in loss of mobility, independence and confidence.

“Implementing these new guidelines to reduce falls in hospitals must be a priority for our health service, not only to improve patient safety, but to help save precious NHS resources.”

Last year, Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust published the results of a study into the effectiveness of low-cost exercise programmes to reduce the likelihood of falls in the over-65s. It found that community-based exercise programmes can cut the risk of older people falling and increase their physical fitness in the long-term.

Conducted with Liverpool John Moores University, the year-long study evaluated the effects of the trust’s Liveability service, which promotes health and independence for older people. 30% of over-65s had a fall at least once a year, the research suggested, but it found that participation in gym-type activities on strength, flexibility and balance reduced the risk of falls and motivated participants to be more active. There was a 41% increase in physical activity immediately after the programme, 17% saw a reduced risk of falling and physical fitness was improved by 59%. After six months there was an 80% improvement in the group’s physical fitness.

The NHS Confederation, in a report published last year, also called for a national plan to cut falls by 30%.

Half of those over 80 will suffer a fall each year, which in addition to the physical consequences, can have a damaging psychological impact, resulting in loss of confidence and independence, and increased isolation and depression.

The NHS Confederation report recommended investment in rehabilitation and prevention services to achieve fewer falls. It called for health and social care services to share data to keep track of people who fall and the care they receive, and for councils to provide falls prevention information and support.

 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

Docmark   12/06/2013 at 17:48

Shame that an article on falls in hospital is headlined with a picture of a male on the stairs & floor of a house!!

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