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Standing together to prevent falls

   Standing together to prevent falls

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and RSA Insurance Group recently announced a new partnership to promote the importance of remaining safe and active in later life.

The first stage of the collaboration will see a new hub full of advice and information about how to prevent falls, as well as 10 free-to-attend virtual roadshows for people in later life, their families and falls-prevention practitioners to find out more about building exercise into a daily routine.

                                                                    Why focus on falls?

The UK, as a whole, has an ageing population.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in 2016, there were 11.8million UK residents aged 65 and over, representing 18 per cent of the total population – 25 years before, there were 9.1million, accounting for 15.8 per cent of the population. This trend is set to continue with many of us living longer, so it is important that we take steps to maintain good health as we move through the years.

Over-65s account for half of all accident-related hospital admissions, with the number of people in this age group being admitted for an accident up 11 per cent since 2015.

According to research by the Department for Work and Pensions, falls affect over a third of people over 65, and 40 per cent of people over 80. Over a quarter of falls result in hip fractures, and the treatment of these alone is estimated to cost around £2billion.  

RoSPA, in its national accident prevention strategy, describes falls as “arguably the greatest accident prevention challenge at present”. However, RoSPA also believes that falls should not be seen as an inevitable part of ageing, and that preventing the first fall is particularly important.

                                                                Preventing falls
One low-cost yet effective falls-prevention measure is strength and balance sessions.

Maintaining and improving muscle strength through strength and balance exercises is something that older people can do themselves, supporting their desire to remain independent and personalising prevention.
Evidence-based strength and balance programmes for those at low to moderate risk of falls are among the recommendations of the national falls consensus statement. The Stand Up, Stay Up programme found that strength and balance activities delivered by non-specialist practitioners who have received the appropriate training, can achieve measurably positive outcomes for the older people who take part in them.

Strength and balance exercise classes are currently not available across the entire country, although many areas are beginning to introduce them into their falls prevention strategies, with trainers typically offering one of two recognised programmes. Based on research, 24 weeks of classes and 50 hours of exercise (including some undertaken at home) is the recommended level, although in practice few areas are offering this and many settle for about 12 weeks of classes.

Between Monday November 30 and Friday December 4, RoSPA and RSA are providing free-to-attend strength and balance sessions aimed at over-65s.

Later Life Training, experts in strength and balance, will give an introduction to these movements, which are accessible for people at all levels of fitness and can be incorporated into everyday activity. Bex Townley, from Later Life Training, and Prof Dawn Skelton, from Later Life Training and Glasgow Caledonian University, will be on hand to answer questions from the public and practitioners during the sessions.

                                                                      Other interventions:

Free falls prevention resources available to everyone via an online information hub – – have also been produced for the project, including “how to” videos about preventing falls, fires and other home accidents, safety checklists and a series of strength and balance demo videos from Later Life Training.

We can work together to prevent falls and they should not be regarded as an inevitable part of getting older.

Ashley Martin
Public Health Adviser, RoSPA
Posted: 12/1/2020 5:35:19 PM 0 comments


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