Hospital admissions due to falls set to rise to 1,000 a day
LGA warns that almost 1,000 older people will be admitted to hospital after a fall by the end of the decade and calls for greater investment in fall prevention work
Published on 20th March 2018
Council leaders have urged more investment in falls prevention after the latest statistics reveal that the number of hospital admissions due to an older person falling is set to rise to nearly 1,000 a day by the end of the decade.
The Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, says that extra government funding is required for councils to scale up falls prevention work to prevent the need for older people being admitted to hospital following a fall.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “It is deeply saddening that someone can fall over, including in their own home, and have to go to hospital as a result.
“Not only is this traumatic and upsetting for the individual concerned and their families, but this has a significant impact on health and social care as well, which are already overstretched as a result of unprecedented demand.
“The fact these shocking figures are set to soar even higher in the next few years, will heap further strain on local services,” she added.
According to the latest figures, there were 316,669 hospital admissions of people aged 65 and over in England in 2016/17 due to falling, amounting to two thirds of all fall-related admissions. Around a fifth of these were as a result of slipping, tripping or stumbling.
The number of fall-related hospital admissions among older people has increased by nine per cent over four years, and based on this trend, will continue to rise to around 350,000 by 2020/21, the equivalent of approximately 950 cases every day.
Falls have a significant impact on older people leading to considerable distress, pain, injury, loss of confidence, loss of independence and even death. The reasons for older people falling vary but can include poor eyesight; dizziness due to medication; poor physical health; long-term conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease or stroke; badly fitted carpets; clutter in the home, and trying to hurry to answer the door or get to the toilet.
A few simple changes to a person’s lifestyle and home can help to reduce the risk of tripping, such as making sure rugs are correctly fitted, stairs are well lit and have handrails, replacing worn-out slippers, keeping active, or talking to a GP about any dizziness caused by taking multiple medications.
Falls are said to cost the NHS more than £2 billion a year – the amount needed to plug the annual funding gap that councils face in adult social care by 2020.
Councils, many of which already offer comprehensive advice and guidance to help prevemt falls and want to invest more in prevention work but are being restricted due to funding reductions.
The LGA says many falls can be avoided and is calling for:
- Greater awareness raising among the public around fall prevention
- The government to fully address the adult social care funding gap, which will reach more than £2 billion by 2020
- For adult social care to be put on an equal footing to the NHS.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe added: “The LGA has previously called for a prevention fund to invest in proven interventions, such as falls, and new research backs up the value of this work. Council-run fall prevention schemes, such as home assessment and modification programmes, have shown to significantly reduce the number of falls requiring hospital admission and to offer a good return on investment, saving money from the public purse.
“But some councils are being forced to stop such fall prevention services due to funding reductions, which has seen spending on prevention work from adult social care budgets reduced by more than £60 million in the past year.
“To reduce demand and cost pressures on the NHS, the government needs to switch its focus from reducing delayed discharges from hospital to preventing admissions in the first place and put adult social care and the NHS on an equal footing.
“Older people may be at a greater risk of falling but in many cases falls can be prevented by making a few simple changes either to a person’s lifestyle or in the home. This could be anything from having regular eye tests, checking a rug is fitted correctly, replacing a pair of worn out slippers or doing moderate exercise.
“Councils want to raise awareness of these straightforward prevention tips to help reduce trips and falls, including while at home, and the unwanted consequence of ending up in a hospital bed.”
Karin Orman, Professional Practice Manager at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists said: “We wholeheartedly welcome the LGA’s calls for a greater focus on fall prevention in our communities. Our work focuses very much on preventing both falls, and admission to hospital following a fall. For example, in East Lancashire and Norfolk NHS Trusts, occupational therapists are routinely deployed with paramedic services and prevent over 76% of callouts as a result of falls from hospital admission. This kind of preventative service chimes exactly with the LGA’s demands for a greater focus on reducing falls and minimising the need for hospital admission. We need to build on existing council schemes led by occupational therapists such as the York Wellbeing Falls Prevention Service which highlight the importance for adult social care and the NHS to be placed on equal footing to help alleviate pressure in the health service.”
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