A number of schemes are being piloted by North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) to improve the response to fallers throughout the region.
A fall is the fourth most common reason for requesting ambulance assistance in the North East, particularly in the older population, with people aged 65 and older having the highest risk of falling.
NEAS now supports three Alternative Response Teams (ARTs) for patients who have fallen in North Tyneside, North Tees and Hartlepool and County Durham, working with providers in those regions to respond to patients who have fallen without injury and supporting them with advice and assessments to help prevent future falls.
The Trust is also working in partnership with Newcastle and Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group, Gateshead Health NHS FT and Newcastle community teams, teaming up paramedics with occupational therapists to enable fallers to be referred to care and support services, exercise sessions, occupational therapy in the community, GPs, psychological assessments and equipment for the home, such as walking aids.
The latest scheme has involved providing specialist falls training to a group of the Trust’s community first responders (CFRs) which, combined with the provision of additional equipment, enables them to gather additional clinical information, such as temperature and oxygen levels, which they can then feed back to the clinicians working within NEAS’s Emergency Operations Centre, who will then be able to decide whether the patient is safe to be left at home or requires an additional NEAS resource to be dispatched for further treatment.
Dan Haworth, advanced practice and pathway development manager at NEAS, said: “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 sometimes wait longer for an ambulance than we would like.
“By working with local providers across the region, we’re able to provide a better experience for those patients whilst also increasing the availability of our emergency ambulances to attend life threatening calls.”