Adrian Scaife

Adrian Scaife, our UK Product Marketing Manager, presents four common sense innovations for falls and invites you to share yours!

In a previous blog I compared fire and falls prevention and the need to use strategies to both reduce the probability and minimise the consequences of falls. Together, both the human and financial consequences could be reduced.

Currently:

  • Falls and fractures in people aged 65 and over account for over 4 million bed days each year in England alone
  • Injurious falls are the leading cause of accident-related mortality in older people

(Royal College of Physicians Report)

  • Studies suggest that about 50% of patients who live independently before sustaining a hip fracture are unable to do so afterwards
  • 5-12% of hip fracture patients discharged to a post-acute care facility are re-admitted to the hospital within six weeks
  • Fragility fracture management alone is estimated to cost £1.7 billion per annum in the UK. Current estimates are that falls cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion per year

(Patient.co.uk)

Unlike fires, where the trigger events are relatively well understood, the causes of falls are much less simple. While for fires, the fire service has end to end responsibility, for falls there are multiple stakeholder organisations involved, including:

  • NHS community health services
  • Ambulance service
  • Acute trust
  • General practioners
  • Social care

The issues surrounding falls cross multiple organisational domains and surely have to be a prime area for integrated seamless working.

So, here is my common sense innovation list:

1. People in the NHS, and in particular the falls services, should be encouraged to recognise that telecare solutions are not something exclusively for the use of people using social care (or housing) services. (see Organisational and clinical audits including assistive technology

2. That when a course of falls prevention activity has been completed then the probability of further falls is reassessed. For many people the risk will have been reduced substantially, however, for those where there is still risk then the use of technology enhanced care services, including telecare, to minimise the future consequences and support the individual will be very relevant.

3. That everyone who is discharged from hospital following an admission for a fall related incident should be given the opportunity to have a telecare system for at least six weeks as part of their rehabilitation. (see Reablement Lite blog)

4. Services that formally respond to telecare alarms are all up-skilled to provide lifting services as standard. The use of these services could extend to beyond just telecare response. For example, who does a home carer call when they find a service user on the floor who can’t get up?

These services could act as ‘First Responder’ and would only call the ambulance service when they were needed rather than every time as now. Some services are already on this journey (see NE Essex CCG example) with staff training often provided by the local ambulance service and from the manufacturers of equipment to support lifting.

I hope some, or maybe all, of the Integration Pioneers take this topic on board because there certainly feels like there is much opportunity for improvement with benefits to be gained by everybody.

Please feel free to share your suggestions for common sense innovations below.