The Avoiding slips, trips and broken hips campaign was set up by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the UK in 1999 to raise awareness about the risk of falls for older people. It focuses on providing simple, practical advice on the steps older people can take to reduce their risk of a fall.
Standard Six (Falls) of the National Service Framework for Older People highlights Avoiding slips, trips and broken hips as a key intervention in the prevention of falls. Standard Six aims to reduce the number of falls which result in serious injury and ensure effective treatment and rehabilitation of those who have fallen.
This year, Avoiding slips, trips and broken has been taken on by Help the Aged as part of its continued commitment to the promotion of best practice in all aspects of health and social care for older people. The campaign was previously run by Health Promotion England in association with the Department of Trade and Industry. Help the Aged funds and offers a range of quality services to older people, ensuring greater independence and peace of mind, both inside and outside the home. Help the Aged is committed to falls prevention to help older people maintain their health and independence.
Falls are a major cause of disability and the leading cause of mortality due to injury among older people aged over 75 in the UK. Nearly a fifth of older people who break their hips die, and of those that survive, less than one third regain their same level of mobility. Hip fractures cost UK society an estimated £726 million per annum, of which half is attributed to social care.
Falls on the stairs alone account for an estimated 1000 deaths of older people each year and a further 330,000 serious injuries. Falls are considered a major factor leading to premature admission to permanent residential care.
While there has been a decline in the number of fatal falls for older people, the number of non-fatal falls is predicted to rise. The after effects of even the most minor fall can be catastrophic for an older person’s physical and mental health. The UK population is ageing and therefore the cost of falls incurred by the NHS and other agencies is expected to escalate. Based on current trends, hip fractures among older people resulting from a fall may rise to 120,000 per annum by 2015.
Avoiding slips, trips and broken hips offers simple and practical advice on how older people can reduce their risk of a fall. By implementing a combination of successful interventions, older people can reduce their risk of having a fall:
Avoiding slips, trips and broken hips works closely with older people, their friends and carers to provide practical information to reduce the risk of a fall. The campaign also works closely with a wide range of practitioners from chiropodists to pharmacists to ensure their older patients and customers receive practical falls prevention information. The campaign fully supports an integrated approach among all health and social care professionals to improve the health of older people and ensure that those who have already fallen or those at risk of falling in the future receive the best possible care and advice to cut the number of falls.
- Physical exercise – Strength and balance exercise eg walking, improves balance and strength and thereby reduces some of the main risk factors for falling.
- Footwear with thin soles and high collars improve balance and mobility compared to other styles.
- Environmental changes are some of the most effective changes to older people’s homes eg the provision of grab rails and having plain light-coloured stair carpets.
- Eyesight, corrected if needed, enables older people to identify routes, obstacles and uneven floor surfaces used in conjunction with appropriate levels of light - especially at night.
- Medication should be regularly reviewed to balance the risks and benefits of particular medications especially if side effects increase the risk of falling.
Leaflets (printed and cassette and in a range of languages) and posters are available free of charge by calling the DTI Publications Orderline on 0870 1502 500 or via www.helptheaged.org.uk.
SeniorLink 0808 800 6565 - Help the Aged free telephone advice service.