A new service hopes to significantly reduce the number of injuries caused by falls in North Tyneside.
The new Community Falls Service will offer advice and assessments for people who have recently fallen, or who are at risk of falling.
It has been commissioned by NHS North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group and is being launched by partners from The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust, Tyne Health Ltd, North Tyneside Council, Age UK North Tyneside, North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and the Tyne and Wear Fire Service.
The service will offer a community falls clinic (managed by Newcastle Hospitals and the and North Tyneside GP Federation), Safe and Well Checks (by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS)), strength and balance courses (provided by Age UK) and Falls First Responder service provided by North Tyneside Council and the North East Ambulance Service.
Falls and related injuries are a significant problem for older people. 30% of people over 65, and 50% of people over 80 have at least one fall in a year, with one fall in twenty leading to hospital admission and one in ten causing significant injury.
Dr Alexandra Kent, a local GP and clinical lead for the falls service at NHS North Tyneside CCG, said: “Trips, slips and falls are amongst the most common accidents in the home. Injuries from a fall can have a major impact on your life. If you fall we will make sure you get the support you need but wherever possible we want to prevent falls from happening in the first place.”
“In North Tyneside, an average of 115-140 people over 65 are admitted to hospital each month after suffering a fall. This costs an average of £4.7 million a year, which does not include the cost of social care or money that families directly pay for care.”
Within the first 12 months of the service being operational, it is expected that around 1,000 patients will be seen. Similar services have proven effective elsewhere in the country and it is hoped that the new service will have similar success.
Dan Haworth, Advanced Practice Manager at NEAS, said: “A fall is the fourth most common reason for requesting ambulance assistance, particularly in the older population, with people aged 65 and older having the highest risk of falling.
“As an emergency service, our priority must always be to those patients who are in a life threatening condition. As a result, this can unfortunately mean some patients whose lives are not imminently at risk, such as elderly fallers, may wait longer for an ambulance than we would like.
“Welcoming Care Call into our team of first responders not only allows us to provide a better experience for those patients who have fallen without injury, but also increases our ambulances’ availability to attend life threatening calls.
“If successful, we would be looking to expand this pilot across the rest of our region.”