Hospital admissions due to falls by older people set to reach nearly 1,000 a day

Date: 19th Mar 2018

The worrying forecast has prompted renewed calls by council leaders 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.

According to the LGA, 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) and produces a financial return on investment of more than £3 for every £1 spent.

The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, says that 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. Councils, many of which already offer comprehensive advice and guidance to help older people stay on their feet, want to invest more in prevention work but are being restricted due to government funding reductions.

The LGA says many falls can be avoided and is 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
• For adult social care to be put on an equal footing to the NHS.

Latest figures show that in England in 2016/17 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 9 per cent over four years, and based on this trend, will continue to rise to around 350,000 by 2020/21, 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.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“It is deeply saddening that someone can fall 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 in the next few years, will heap further strain on local services. The LGA has previously called for a prevention fund to invest in proven interventions, such as falls, and new research backs up the value of this work. 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 some councils are being forced to stop such fall prevention services due to funding reductions, 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.”

According to a recent update from Age UK, falls are the largest cause of emergency hospital admissions for older people, and significantly impact on long term outcomes, e.g. being a major precipitant of people moving from their own home to long term nursing or residential care.

There are around 220,000 falls-related emergency hospital admissions in England among patients aged 65 and older and unaddressed falls hazards in the home are estimated to cost the NHS in England a staggering £435m. It’s up to Councils to find money within their already stretched budgets to fund tools for early intervention and prevention, to improve quality of life and make long term cost savings. 

CM2000’s ARMED (Advanced Risk Modelling for Early Detection) combines pioneering predictive analytics modelling with innovative wearable technology, and health and social care data, providing a powerful tool to identify risks earlier in the care cycle, including risk of falling. By combining pioneering predictive analytics modelling - developed in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University - with innovative wearable technology and Health and Social Care data, ARMED helps identify and predict those at risk of falling, as well as indicating other frailty indicators. 

This allows for timely intervention and better self-management in the comfort of the Service User’s home, avoiding expensive hospital stays.

“The ARMED solution has huge and exciting potential to support falls prevention and provides our customers, their families and carers, with a tech solution that delivers peace of mind while allowing people to live independently at home, for as long as possible.”

Moira Charters, Head of Partnerships and New Initiatives, Loreburn Housing Association.

Find out how Loreburn HA focus on fall prevention using CM 2000’s ARMED to predict and prevent falls

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