Local Liberal Democrats have warned that the number of hospital admissions due to an older person falling, is set to rise to nearly 1,000 a day by the end of the decade.
The worrying forecast, according to data released by the Local Government Association, has prompted renewed calls for more funding for adult social care to invest in cost-effective prevention work to reduce falls, which can have devastating and life-threatening consequences on a person’s health and wellbeing.
New research shows that falls prevention programmes run by councils reduce the number of falls requiring hospital admission by nearly a third (29 per cent). For every £1 spent on preventing falls in the home, £3 is saved in hospital care.
Liberal Democrat Alex Brims said extra government funding for councils to scale up this prevention work to address a rising older population would help the NHS by reducing the need for people to be admitted to hospital after a fall and cut costs to the public purse.
Falls are said to cost the NHS more than £2 billion a year – the amount needed to plug the annual funding gap that councils face in adult social care by 2020. But Government funding restrictions are limiting the work that local councils can do.
Local Liberal Democrats believe many falls can be avoided and are calling for:
Greater awareness raising among the public around fall prevention
The Government to fully address the adult social care funding gap, which will reach more than £2 billion by 2020
Adult social care to be put on an equal footing to the NHS
Latest figures from England in 2016/17, show there were 316,669 hospital admissions of people aged 65 and over due to falling, amounting to two thirds of all fall-related admissions. Around a fifth of these were as a result of slipping, tripping or stumbling.
The number of fall-related hospital admissions among older people has increased by nine per cent over four years, and based on this trend, will continue to rise to around 350,000 by 2020/21. This is the equivalent of approximately 950 cases every day. In contrast, the number of admissions for those aged under 65 has remained constant.
Falls have a significant impact on older people, as well as adult social care and health services. They can lead to considerable distress, pain, injury, loss of confidence, loss of independence and even death.
The reasons for older people falling vary, but can include poor eyesight; dizziness, due to medication; poor physical health; long-term conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease or stroke; badly fitted carpets; clutter in the home, and trying to hurry to answer the door or get to the toilet.
A few simple changes to a person’s lifestyle and home can help to reduce the risk of tripping, such as making sure rugs are correctly fitted, stairs are well lit and have handrails, replacing worn-out slippers, keeping active, or talking to a GP about any dizziness caused by taking multiple medications.
Liberal Democrat campaigner Alex Brims said:
“It is deeply saddening when someone falls over, including in their own home, and have to go to hospital as a result.
“Not only is this traumatic and upsetting for the individual concerned and their families, but this has a significant impact on health and social care as well, which are already overstretched as a result of unprecedented demand.
“The fact these shocking figures are set to soar even higher over the next few years, will heap further strain on local services.
“Council-run fall prevention schemes, such as home assessment and modification programmes, have shown to significantly reduce the number of falls requiring hospital admission and to offer a good return on investment, saving money from the public purse. But government cuts mean less can be done, which has seen spending on prevention work from adult social care budgets reduced by more than £60 million in the past year.
“To reduce demand and cost pressures on the NHS, the Government needs to switch its focus from reducing delayed discharges from hospital to preventing admissions in the first place and put adult social care and the NHS on an equal footing.
“Older people may be at a greater risk of falling but in many cases falls can be prevented by making a few simple changes either to a person’s lifestyle or in the home. This could be anything from having regular eye tests, checking a rug is fitted correctly, replacing a pair of worn out slippers or doing moderate exercise.
“We want to raise awareness of these straightforward prevention tips to help reduce trips and falls, including while at home, and the unwanted consequence of ending up in a hospital bed.”