New initiative to reduce falls among older people will begin in Wigan

Wigan has been chosen as the initial focus of a project aiming to reduce the risk of falls among older people.
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Around 10,000 people over 65 in Greater Manchester are hurt in falls each year, which can lead to serious injuries, admission to hospital or a move into long-term care.

As part of Falls Prevention Awareness Week, which started on Monday, it has been revealed that a £100,000 grant has been secured by Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership and Greater Manchester Combined Authority to help reduce hospital admissions.

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The project aims to reduce the risk of falls among older peopleThe project aims to reduce the risk of falls among older people
The project aims to reduce the risk of falls among older people
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Through increased sharing of patient data, Greater Manchester Falls Collaborative will be able to pinpoint where pre-emptive support could make an impact.

There are plans to roll out the programme across Greater Manchester, following an initial focus on Wigan.

Warren Heppolette, chief officer for strategy and innovation at NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care, said: “Each year thousands of people in Greater Manchester fall and injure themselves and this can have a detrimental impact on their physical and mental health and well-being, sometimes permanently.

“Many falls, or the effects of those falls, might have been prevented with timely intervention and this new project aims to do just that.

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“The Greater Manchester Care Record has been a great success in joining up patient information from NHS and care services in order to help frontline health and care workers to save lives, and we expect it will repeat this success with our falls prevention work.

“Now, just as the colder months start, we are able to use this information to ensure we can reduce the needless falls which rank as the second leading cause of death and disability among older adults nationally, behind road traffic incidents.”

Health and care leaders will work to bring down Wigan’s hospital admissions rates, which are among the highest in the city-region.

Greater Manchester Falls Collaborative will look to build on the achievements of initiatives like Wigan Council’s Be Well programme, which aims to reduce the risk of falls by providing opportunities for people to improve their balance, bone health and muscle strength.

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A 76-year-old man from Appley Bridge who has benefited from the programme’s strength and balance classes said: “I enjoy it a lot, I enjoy the variations for people of all abilities.

“I’m nowhere near where I used to be (since the falls), but the class allows me to attempt to build back to where I once was.

“The instructors are fully supportive and provide great variation in the way the class operates. Similar exercises taught in different ways can make the class more engaging and can only benefit us participants.”

As part of Falls Prevention Awareness Week, a series of bitesize learning sessions will be held at noon each day this week for those working in fall-related fields, interested in falls prevention or with lived experience of falls.

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Age UK has the following top tips for avoiding falls later in life:

  • Exercise to improve balance
  • Ask your GP practice for a medication review if you are feeling dizzy or worried about your balance
  • Have regular eyesight and hearing tests
  • Choose and wear the right shoes
  • Check your home for trip hazards such as rugs or objects near stairs, or uneven surfaces