Preventing Falls

At this week’s Health Scrutiny committee a report on Falls Prevention was presented. The information was gathered, examined and recommendations made by a Single Issue Panel led by Cllr Chris Goninan, an Independent Councillor from St Just, who is an invaluable and hardworking member of the Health Scrutiny committee.

There were some surprising and shocking facts in the report.

Each year 1 in 3 people over 65 and almost 1 in 2 people over 85 experience one or more falls.

Between 10 and 25% of people over 80 who fall will have a serious injury as a result.

In Cornwall. there were 3,398 hospital admissions resulting from a fall, including 476 hip fractures – costing around £9.6 million.

After a fall, an older person has a 50% probability of having seriously impaired mobility and a 10% probability of dying within a year.

The issue of the cuts in Cornwall’s Disabled Facilities Grant was not covered because responsibility for that is with the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee and they are looking into it.  It seems a case for making panels cut across committees but I was not part of the discussion on this, so have no idea whether there is a good reason this can’t happen (either a properly good reason or a constitutional issue, which may not be quite so good).

There were a range of factors, from missed medication or over prescribed medication to loose carpets and lack of exercise.  There were also concerns that the current obsession among young women with diet and weight loss could result in an increase in osteoporosis in the future and women with more brittle, easily broken bones as they get older.

Another shocking issue that emerged in the report was this:

50% of falls are at home and many who live alone can spend hours on the floor awaiting help. During the course of the Single Issue Panel it has become apparent that some of these people cannot have a Lifeline because they do not have two emergency contacts in the community.

That is something we could all think about – one suggestion was that Parish Councils were approached and other voluntary organisations to find people willing to acts as emergency contacts.

The recommendations of the report will got to the council and other health organisations and hope to help prevent falls and their consequences. Over the next 20 years, it is expected that the number of people over 85  in Cornwall will double, so the prevention of falls is an important issue to get to grips with.

The full report can be found here.

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