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Commitment to a fall in falls

14 December 2023

The role played by Cambridgeshire County Council in reducing the number of falls and fractures experienced by older people has been agreed.

Falls and related injuries are a common and significant problem for older adults and a major public health issue. Falls are a major cause of disability and injury related death in people aged 75 and over, and have a large impact on quality of life.

Around one in three people over 65 years old and half of those over 80 experience a fall at least once a year. In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in 2022/23, there were 2,699 emergency admissions due to falls and 1,015 admissions due to a hip fracture.

The estimated combined total cost of these hospital admissions was £16.3m, an increase of over £1.9m on the previous year. These costs do not include wider health and social care costs such as primary care, ambulance or adult social care costs.

The prevalence of falls and fractures – together with the associated pressures on the wider health and social care services – is expected to rise due to the ageing population in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

The new three-year Falls Prevention Strategy and detailed delivery plan – endorsed by Cambridgeshire County Council’s Adults and Health Committee today (December 14) – have been developed collaboratively by the multi-agency Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Falls Prevention Strategy Group.

The strategy includes a number of interventions that have been shown to be effective at preventing some falls and fractures, resulting in improved health outcomes and independence for older people.

The intended outcome of the strategy is a reduction in the rate of hip fracture admissions, and an improvement to the quality of life of older adults who experience a fall or fracture.

The strategy has six main priorities in which Cambridgeshire County Council has a part to play:

Priority 1: Prevention and early identification of people at risk of fall: The aim of this priority is to intervene at the earliest opportunity to prevent and reduce the number of people who have a first fall. An action for the County Council is to ensure the public and frontline staff engaging with older adults have the information they need to make informed choices about falls risk factors and have access to opportunities to live and age well.

Priority 2: Evidence-based and good practice falls prevention interventions and services: The aim is to ensure that people who have fallen have timely access to services, interventions and opportunities that will support a reduction in the risk of falls and falls related injuries.

Priority 3: Action to address risk in hospital: The aim is to minimise the risk of inpatient falls, repeat falls and re-admissions, and to improve quality of life.

Priority 4: Action to address risk in care homes: The aim of this priority is to prevent, reduce and manage falls in nursing and residential home residents, reducing the risk and consequences of fragility fracture, improve quality of life and reduce system wide pressures. The County Council will support this priority by leading a project with care and residential homes and the CPFT to embed movement and physical activity into the daily lives of residents.

Priority 5: Detection and management of fragility fractures: The aim is to ensure early identification and management of osteoporosis in order to prevent and reduce fractures.

Priority 6: Inclusive services: The aim is to ensure early falls prevention services are inclusive and accessible to all service users.

Cllr Richard Howitt, Chair of the Adults and Health Committee said: “Many elderly and disabled people living alone live in fear of falling, which is why our Lifeline community alarm service has provided great reassurance to vulnerable people and to their families.

“However, this new strategy shows that we can do more to reduce the number of falls amongst older people in the first place.

“In future, our staff will be much more proactive in identifying those at risk of falls whether at home, in care homes or whilst temporarily in hospital. We will be taking practical measures to make the environment in which they live safer, to provide equipment and assistance which can help and to pursue health support to cut the risk to frail people.

“Our aim is no less than a fall in falls. I welcome that the committee supported this so enthusiastically.”