Older people should be asked about falls when they have routine assessments and reviews with health and social care practitioners, says the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
The quality standard prioritises the need to identify those at risk of falls, so that falls can be prevented
In its updated quality standard to help prevent falls in people over 65, NICE says they should be asked whether they have had falls in the last year, or consider themselves to be at risk of falling.
It recommends that people are asked if they ever lose their balance or feel unsteady on their feet. If an older person is then deemed to be at risk, healthcare professionals should refer the older person to the appropriate service.
NICE calls for evidence gathering about local arrangements to ensure that older people are asked about falls during GP appointments or hospital visits.
It sets a standard that older people with a high risk of falling should have an ‘individualised multifactorial intervention’. This type of intervention would look at a range of factors that could contribute to falls, such as medication, muscle strength, osteoporosis or nutrition.
Louise McGregor, chair of Agile, the group for chartered physios working with older people, welcomed the revised standard.
She said that questioning older people about falling should be the responsibility of all physiotherapy staff, even if they are treating those people for conditions unrelated to falls.
‘A lot of older people think that falling is a normal part of ageing, so it’s important to get the message across that this is not the case,’ she said.
‘With individualised intervention their risk of falling may be reduced.’
NICE points to research suggesting that approximately 30 per cent of people aged 65 and up will fall at least once a year.
While most falls do not result in serious injury, annual statistics show that some 255,000 older people are admitted to hospitals in England due to falls, NICE says.
The latest quality standard, published on 31 January 2017, updates the existing 2015 document.
This article was amended on 9 February 2017 to include comments from Louise McGregor, chair of Agile.
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