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The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is launching a campaign to prevent thousands of older people being unnecessarily admitted to hospital from a fall at home.  

RoSPA, the UK’s leading accident prevention charity, has created the short film, Facing up to Falls, as part of its Safer Homes project. It aims to educate families and older people on practical steps to avoid falls by highlighting key issues that lead to a tumble.  

The film, involving real-life experiences of older people living in the London boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Newham, will premiere at the Keeping London Healthy - Reducing Falls event at The London Living Room, in London City Hall, from 9.30am to 11.30am on Thursday, July 25. Deputy Mayor of London Victoria Borwick, senior public health officials and local authority professionals will be in attendance.  

Falls among people aged over 65 are a national problem with around 310,000 hospital admissions in 2011-12. Admission rates in 67 local authority areas were higher than the England average, according to indicators set under the Public health Outcomes Framework1. Over a quarter of falls result in hip fractures and the treatment of these alone is estimated to cost around £2billion2. Falls are a significant and growing public health issue in an ageing population.  

In London, hospital admission rates for falls to the over-65s in 24 of the capital’s 33 boroughs are higher than the England average of 1,665 per 100,000 people. There were more than 37,000 admissions due to falls in London alone in 2011-12.  

Ashley Martin, RoSPA’s public health project manager, said: “More than 3,500 people in England and Wales die every year as a result of a fall and nearly a third of a million people need hospital treatment. Many older people who suffer from falls never fully recover from either the physical or psychological impact of their injuries.  

“We know that the risk of a fall increases with age, and half of older people cannot live independently after suffering a fracture.  

“The cost to the individuals, their families and society are huge. Hopefully this film will be a valuable tool for all those who are working to prevent falls and will give older people more confidence to make the changes that can help to keep them safe.”

The film will be downloadable to members of the public and professionals working with the elderly across the country from RoSPA’s YouTube site. A subtitled version will also be available online for the hard of hearing.  

The Keeping London Healthy - Reducing Falls event has been organised in partnership with the Housing Learning and Improvement Network (Housing LIN), Age UK and the LVSC (London Voluntary Service Council). They will speak on topics including: the scale of the problem in terms of costs to the health economy and society as a whole; medical and environmental factors contributing to falls; the importance of keeping fit and healthy; and services that are available to support older people.  

Simple tips to prevent falls, featured in the film, include:  

  • Remove tripping hazards from the floor, such as clutter, electrical cords and wires
  • Have adequate lighting on the stairways and halls. Also think about having a bedside lamp to make it easier to see if you get up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night
  • Use a non-slip bath mat and wipe up any spills immediately
  • Take exercise classes that improve balance and strength
  • Use slippers with hard backs
  • Get medication checked every six months by your GP or pharmacist as people are far more likely to be at risk of a fall if they take four or more pills
  • Have a plan in place for if you fall to alert friends, family or emergency services.  

The Safer Homes Programme aims to reduce the incidence of injury for those most at risk. RoSPA works with local authorities and their partners to address accident prevention as a key public health issue in areas across England with the highest accident rates.  

The Facing up to Falls film and the how to get up safely after a fall video can be viewed at www.rospa.com/homesafety/adviceandinformation/falls/.

1 www.publichealthoutcomesframework.info  

2 Hip fracture: The management of hip fracture in adults: NICE Clinical Guidance CG124. June 2011

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