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‘Boost Your Bones’ for Age UK’s Falls Awareness Week 2012

20 June 2012

Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is holding a falls awareness event at London Road Community Hospital (LRCH) on Thursday 21 June as part of Age UK’s Falls Awareness Week 2012. Backing the Charity’s drive to boost the bone health of older people across the country, the event will show that there are many simple things that can reduce the risk of falls and fractures as we grow older.

Everyone is welcome to the free event which takes place in the Specialist Assessment & Rehabilitation Centre at LRCH between 10am-2pm.

At LRCH the Falls Service has organised more than 20 specialist and professional advice stands, including two Tai Chi sessions and a seated exercise group, stalls including home hazards, continence advice, a cake stall, and Nintendo Wii demonstrations. With the focus on bone health this year, staff will be offering self assessments for osteoporosis, supported by a dietitian and physiotherapist who will be discussing diet and exercise for bone health. The Osteoporosis Society will also be on hand to offer support.

The aim of the Falls Service is to assess patients and help them with the problems they have to enable them to keep as independent as possible. People are referred to this service if they have had one or more falls in the past six months, as well as other factors such as problems with continence, mobility, fear of falling again and confidence issues. It is very common for falls to be for one reason or many reasons, and the service aims to assess why patients are falling and/or are unsteady. This is carried out by a team of health professionals, including nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists. 

Age UK’s Falls Awareness Week 2012 will highlight the importance of exercise alongside a balanced diet rich in calcium and getting enough Vitamin D through sunshine to build and maintain healthy bones, helping to prevent falls and fractures in later life. With around 30% of over-65s and 50% of those aged over 80 falling every year, staff at Derby Hospitals are calling on older people to attend local activities during Falls Awareness Week to learn how to prevent falls and look after bone health all year round. Activities range from taking a walk and getting out in the sunshine for ten minutes to exercise such as Tai Chi.

People in later life and healthcare staff are invited to join in to find out what they can do to help prevent falls.

Bridget O’Hagan is head of nursing for the Trust’s Clinical Support Services and Cancer division, and is leading the falls work. She said: “We are working hard in the Trust to provide information for staff and members of the public, and adapt the way we work to best prevent falls. We also encourage older people to find out more about falls prevention and what they can do.

“The aim of our work is to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of falls safety within the Trust, how patient experience and outcomes are improving and reduce the rate of patients harmed by a fall. We’ve also increased the number of staff who received falls management training, and have increased the number of patients with appropriate care and observations after a fall.”

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK, said: “As we get older our bone strength naturally deteriorates, which puts us at greater risk of serious injury if we do fall. People attending Falls Awareness Week events will be able to find out more about how to maintain bone health as well as discovering simple strength and balance exercises.

“Every step can make a difference – from simply walking up the stairs to getting active in a local exercise class. Events such this one at Derby Hospitals held in support of Falls Awareness Week are a vital way to encourage people to understand more about preventing the risk of a fall and maintaining independence.”

During Falls Awareness Week, Age UK will be supporting events across the country highlighting how important maintaining healthy bones is, as well as the benefits of staying active in later life. For more information on how to get involved or host your own event, call 0800 169 87 87 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/fallsweek.

To download Age UK’s free ‘Staying Steady’ and ‘Healthy Eating’ guides call 0800 169 6565 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk.