Medequip is looking closely at investing in expertise to develop a transferable falls prevention model that the company can roll out to its various community equipment services (CES) contracts.
The assistive technology provider already operates one falls prevention contract in the Wirral and following the success of the service, believes a transferable model could be created to complement its other CES contracts.
The Wirral Falls Prevention Service was originally commissioned by Public Health with the overall aim to reduce the number of falls experienced by older people in Wirral.
In July 2015, the service was included in the Wirral Independence Service contract and the commission was awarded to Medequip – the first time a falls prevention service was outsourced in the UK.
The small, multidisciplinary Medequip team consists of physiotherapists, and occupational therapist, nurses and technical instructors, placing the emphasis firmly on education, training, creating safer environments, prioritising fall-related research and establishing effective policies to reduce risk.
The team has successfully built and enhanced services and facilities for patients, contributing towards a reduction in falls and associated costs for Wirral NHS.
Medequip’s team focuses on falls assessments, including a detailed multi factorial needs assessment and making use of a clear referral pathway to other agencies, dependent upon the outcome of the assessment.
Trained instructors deliver suitable evidence-based progressive Postural Stability Instruction programmes, with community chair-based programmes for frailer individuals.
In addition, the team also provides training to staff working with vulnerable older people, particularly nursing, residential home staff and carers, to ensure that they have sufficient knowledge and support to undertake initial falls screening assessments.
Alongside this work, the Medequip Falls Prevention Service has developed a public awareness education programme including a presentation delivering falls risk information, self-management and healthy living advice, delivered to client groups within community settings.
A booklet entitled ‘Taking Positive Steps’ has been written and produced, advising older people on falls risks and how to prevent them.
79% of referees to the Medequip Wirral Falls Prevention Service had no further falls at six weeks post intervention and average number of falls reduced by three per week.
76% had improved confidence in daily living activities and 90% of lower impact chair-based programme attendees showed improved balance.
In addition, the Falls Prevention Service has played a part in ensuring that fall attendances at Wirral hospitals have decreased by 18% from 14,800 in 2014/15 to 12,210 in 2017/2018. Data from 2018/2019 (April to December 2018) suggests that this figure is continuing to decrease.
Falls are estimated to cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion every year and every year, more than one in three people aged over 65 suffers a fall that can result in serious injury or even death.
Annually, ambulance services respond to more than 700,000 calls from older people who have fallen, representing 10% of total callouts.
Reducing the risk and rate of falls has a significant role to play in improving the health of the older population, not just in terms of reduced costs but also in maintaining independence for older people.