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NHS South Central issues guidance to reduce elderly falls

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NHS South Central has reminded people of the measures they can take to avoid a fall, after it emerged that one in three people aged 65 and over have taken a tumble in the last year.

The strategic health authority has issued guidance as it attempts to raise awareness as part of Patient Safety Awareness Week.

Jill Phipps, project manager for reducing falls and fractures in older people through the NHS Patient Safety Federation, said: “We are working hard to reduce the number of patient falls and there are a range of initiatives that are helping in different hospitals.”

For example, some hospitals have invested in footwear with safety grips, installed more hand rails and sensor mats which notify staff when an at-risk patient is getting up.

Meanwhile in Portsmouth, fall specialists and pharmacy staff have teamed up to make patients aware which medications increase the probability of falls in older people.

Ms Phipps went on to reveal that hospitals up and down the country are increasing the number of adjustable beds they have at their disposal. These beds can be lowered to reduce the risk of falling and any subsequent injuries.

Other subtle yet equally important changes include improving sign quality so that older people can find the bathroom more easily and reduce the risk of confusion and falls. In addition, healthcare staff have undertaken specialist training in order to make them better equipped to prevent, manage and reduce patient harm from falls.

Doctors assess the bone health of patients who are admitted to hospital following a fall, an important exercise considering that osteoporosis is common in older people, with half of women aged over 65 and a fifth of men at risk of sustaining an osteoporotic fracture

Ms Phipps added: “On discharge from hospital, patients who have fallen over are referred to their local community services for on-going treatment, which may include specific rehabilitation exercises and a home hazard assessment which will identify any adjustments that could be made to the patient’s home to make life easier for them.”



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