Falls prevention is a key issue in the improvement of health and wellbeing amongst older people. Falls are a major cause of disability and death in older people in Wales, and result in significant human costs in terms of pain, loss of confidence and independence. It is estimated that between 230,000 and 460,000 people over the age of 60 fall in Wales each year. Between 11,500 and 45,900 of these suffer serious injury: fracture, head injury, or serious laceration. The work of the Falls Prevention network will help older people to maintain their health and wellbeing, live longer in their own homes and remain active in their communities.
There is also significant financial cost to health and social care services associated with dealing with the results of falls. Falls are estimated to cost the NHS in the UK more than £2.3billion per year. Evidence suggests that falls prevention can reduce the number of falls by between 15% and 30%, and that well organised services, based on national standards and evidence-based guidelines, can prevent falls and reduce death and disability from fractures.
A number of substantial national and local initiatives are underway in Wales to address the issue of falls, ranging from prevention through to treatment. Whilst the 1000 Lives Multiagency Falls Collaborative for Wales focuses on those who have already fallen, the falls prevention network of Ageing Well in Wales will address early intervention for those older people at risk of falling for the first time. The network and any development and delivery of falls prevention services that result from the Programme will support an older person’s wellbeing as well as addressing specific identified risk factors for falls. This work will link with Public Health Wales’ Transforming Health Improvement Programme, which is looking at evidence-based interventions on key topic areas across the lifecourse.