Each year in the UK, around 6,000 people a year die following an accident at home and many thousands are injured.
The single biggest cause of accidental injuries in the home are falls and people over the age of 65 are by far the most affected.
In fact, a report produced by Newcastle University for RoSPA/RSA found that falls are the largest cause of accidental death among over-65s in the UK. There has been a rise in both deaths and mortality rates per 100,000 people from falls among over-65s since 2015 – the number of deaths rising 7.5 percent between 2017 and 2018 and the rate per 100,000 up to 50.4 from 47.3.
One in three people over 65 fall at least once a year, increasing to one in two aged 80 and over, and these falls can have a huge impact on their lives; from physical injuries, long-term health effects and disabilities to trauma and poor mental health, loss of mobility, loneliness, social isolation and loss of independence.
Falls also impact hugely on society as a whole; the family, friends and neighbours of the person who falls are affected, along with the burden placed on health and social care services and the effects on the economy overall. Eighty per cent of hospital admissions for accidents among over 65s are due to falls, costing the NHS and wider healthcare system more than £ 2.3 billion every year.
Older people are at such a high risk of falls due to a number of factors, including muscle weakness, poor balance, visual impairment, the concurrent use of multiple medicines as well as certain individual medicines, environmental hazards, some medical conditions and having a history of falls.
Since 2019, RSA Group and RoSPA have been working together to raise awareness of falls, and fall prevention, among older people and their families. This work has included a falls prevention online hub and a series of online strength and balance roadshows designed to give people in later life, their families and falls prevention practitioners the opportunity to find out more about building exercise into a daily routine.
The partnership is now embarking on a new project, entitled Fall Fighter, which aims to educate and empower individuals to help prevent falls from happening, transforming them into “Fall Fighters” who can then help others in the community by using a “ripple effect”.
The Fall Fighter initiative has three stages:
- A free-of-charge awareness session on the key causes of falls and how to prevent them is provided via a choice of three routes: a short self-led workshop for organisations and practitioners; a short e-learning course for the public; or a 20-minute virtual classroom session run by RoSPA.
- Following completion, each participant is deemed a ‘RoSPA Fall Fighter’, given a certificate and armed with a digital toolkit, including key messages.
- RoSPA Fall Fighters are empowered to raise awareness and reduce the likelihood of falls by sharing the items in their digital toolkit with their own networks.
Falls should not be seen as an inevitable part of aging, and preventing the “first fall” from occurring is particularly important. There are a variety of simple steps that can make a huge difference in reducing falls and communication is key. For instance, discussing what medication your friend, relative or loved one is currently prescribed and whether it needs to be reviewed, finding out whether they need an eye test, doing a home safety check and looking at what cheap and straightforward changes around the house could improve safety.
The Fall Fighter awareness sessions will cover this type of advice, as well as offering guidance on what to do if someone has a fall – both in the short and longer term.
How can I get involved?
Becoming a Fall Fighter is quick and easy. Visit: www.rospa.com/fall-fighter