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Strength and balance experts can help prevent repeated falls in older people, says NICE

27 March 2015 - 4:23pm

Older people with a history of falls should be referred to experts, such as physiotherapists, who can provide them with strength and balance training.

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Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in people over 75 in the UK

That is one of the recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), in its new quality standard for falls in older people.

NICE says that falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in people over 75 in the UK, and cost the NHS an estimated £2.3 billion each year. As a result, the quality standard aims to help NHS staff prevent further injury in older patients who have already had a fall.

Physiotherapist Vicki Goodwin, research officer for the CSP professional network Agile, was part of the NICE quality standards advisory committee, which developed the standards.

She told Frontline: ‘Physiotherapists have a key role to play in improving the standards of care after people have fallen, in particular in the delivery of evidence-based strength and balance training programmes.

‘As a profession, we must make use of the evidence-base and the CSP falls economic model and actively engage with commissioners to ensure there is sufficient capacity to provide these services.’

Quality standards

The document sets out a series of standards to ensure that older falls patients receive a comprehensive assessment and support to prevent them falling again.

These include that:

  • NHS organisations with inpatient beds should ensure that all staff follow ‘post-fall’ protocols, which include checking older people who have fallen for fractures and spinal injuries before they are moved
  • older people who have fallen in the past should see an expert who can help them start exercises to build up their muscle strength and improve balance
  • older people who are treated in hospital for a fall should be offered a visit from a trained professional who can check their home for anything that puts them at risk of falling again

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