A falls prevention team in Hambleton and Richmondshire is helping people take steps to becoming steadier on their feet.
Falls in the community are increasingly common and often lead to the person requiring urgent and emergency care.
But South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s falls prevention team is helping keep people in their own home by giving them the tools they need to avoid falling and coming into hospital.
The team provides specialist support to people aged 65 years and over who have had two or more falls or a fall and a fracture in the last 12 months.
People are referred into the team from a variety of sources including GP’s, district nurses, adult health and social care and voluntary agencies.
Tina Wiffen, clinical lead for the specialist falls team, explained that a fall can have a huge impact on a person’s life and confidence.
“People may be surprised to hear that one of the main reasons people end up in in A&E is because they’ve had a fall.
“Falling can have a huge long-term effect on a person’s independence and quality of life and can cause serious injuries and subsequent moves into long-term care.
“Although it is a common problem, it can often be avoided if some simple advice and interventions are followed.”
Following a referral, Tina and her team complete a complex initial assessment in the person’s home or care home.
This includes an assessment of the person’s social, medical, physical and mental health status along with an environmental and lifestyle check.
From this, the team work with the patient to deliver a person-centred care plan and undertake a goal setting exercise.
Further interventions may include a home exercise regime, equipment and adaptation provision, strategies to overcome fear and anxiety associated with falling with subsequent support to re-integrate socially.
The team may also refer onto other services and agencies to provide a fully holistic support structure.
Once given an exercise programme, the team then visit the patient once a month over six months to monitor and progress the patient.
“It’s a pleasure to watch people’s ability and confidence grow throughout the months,” Tina added.
One of the patients to benefit from the specialist falls service is 87-year-old Dorothy Metcalfe.
Before falling over in December 2022, Dorothy from Hutton Rudby walked half a mile to and from her local shop every morning.
But, after tripping over on the ice and experiencing blackouts and pain, she became unsteady on her feet and housebound.
After being transferred to the service, Dorothy was given a range of exercises, including marching on the spot, standing on one leg and walking up and down her kitchen.
She has since been doing them at least twice a day and is visited by the team once a month.
“I can’t fault the team, they’re all so kind,” she said. “I’m feeling a bit more confident now.”
Thanks to the support she has received from the falls prevention team, Dorothy has set herself the goal of being able to walk to her local shop again.
Simple steps you can take to stop your changes of falling over:
- Go for regular eye tests
- Get your hearing checked if required
- Make sure your home is free of any clutter such as rugs and low tables
- Wear sturdy, well fitted footwear
- Try to stay active
- Eat a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated
- Take medications as prescribed and ask your GP for regular reviews
- Ensure you have adequate lighting