Falls are the main cause of disability and the leading cause of death from injury among people aged over 75 in the UK. Every minute, six people aged over 65 suffer a fall, yet over a million falls could be prevented by encouraging older people to do the right exercises, and in particular strength and balance.
Typically, referral into a falls clinic only happens after the first fall, however there are many older people who have not yet fallen but are entering the ‘at risk’ zone. How do we reach people before their first fall and prevent it from happening?
Getting people to do the right exercises to improve their strength and balance is the first challenge that has to be overcome so a collaborative effort involving non-medical, informal referral will open the door to many who would otherwise be overlooked. By working together with doctors, pharmacists, libraries, charities and the fire service, we aim to offer a community approach to reduce the risk of having the first fall.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and NHS Birmingham South Central Clinical Commissioning Group have provided funding for Move it or Lose it to run classes in libraries and GP surgeries in Birmingham to help older people improve their strength and balance.
Visitors to libraries across Birmingham will be able to borrow Move it or Lose it resources to learn more about simple exercises that can be done and encouraged to attend classes where their falls risk will be assessed using a the Quantitative Timed Up and Go (QTUG). This will establish if someone is at high, moderate or low risk of a fall through evidence-based gait analysis.
Those at high risk are referred to a falls clinic; those at low to moderate risk are offered a free twelve-week programme of exercise and support to improve their strength, balance, mobility and confidence. The classes provide the perfect opportunity to socialise afterwards over a cup of tea when other risk factors can be addressed such as medication, sight checks, trip hazards and lighting at home.
Those with no apparent risk of falling but have a fear of falling, can also access the classes to improve their confidence and then go on to attend other activities. After the programme the exercises continue at local community classes to ensure long-term adherence.
The aim of the programme is to help people regain their independence and confidence with a view to rolling out this cost effective intervention into other regions of the UK, with the potential to stop thousands of falls and save the NHS millions of pounds.
Anyone wanting to take part can sign up to the waiting list now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0800 612 7785.
So pleased that Birmingam and Solihull CCG are offering this great resource.