Archived news: published on Wednesday 04 Jul 2012 by Fife Council
One of the more worrying aspects of growing older is the fear of suffering a bad fall and not being able to summon help. Around 30 per cent of people over 65 and 50 per cent of over 80s will fall each year, often with devastating consequences, including loss of mobility, independence and confidence.
Not all people who fall will break a bone but with 1 hip fracture occurring in Fife every day it is important to make sure our bone health is checked too.
What's not true, however, is the common belief by old and young alike that falls are just another inconvenience to put up with.
During the recent Falls Awareness Week staff from Fife Health and Social Care Partnership have again been raising awareness of the simple interventions that can reduce the risk of falls such as regular health checks with the local community health team.
Mrs Kathleen Budd was for many years the headmistress of Star Primary School and has recently celebrated her 86th birthday. “The first thing I do after I wash in the morning is put my community alarm pendant around my neck - it’s a life-line” said Mrs Budd as she described the help she receives from the Fife Falls Response Service.
“I can honestly say they (Mobile Emergency Care Service) have never taken more than 15 minutes to reach me after I press my pendant button. One minute you are on the floor and the next you are gently floating upwards!”
Mrs Budd is one of the many people in Fife to have experienced the pneumatic lifting cushions, specially designed to raise a fallen person without causing further injury to them or to the care giver.
“When we arrive at a person’s home, we provide lots of reassurance and ask if they are in any pain in which case an ambulance is immediately called” explains Wilma from the Mobile Emergency Care team. “If they just need help to get back up we explain what we are about to do with the inflatable lifting cushions. We keep chatting calmly to them as the Elk (pneumatic lifting cushions) raises them off the ground to a sitting position, like being in a comfortable armchair. People think they are great and want to keep it!”
Norma Hamilton-Dyer from the NHS Fife Bone health and Falls Managed Care Network describes what happens next. “The purpose of a managed care network is to ensure that services work closely together to provide joined-up health and social care. Our colleagues in Home Care don’t just pick people up after a bad fall, they ask if they would like a follow up visit from the community health team to investigate the reasons for the fall. Then we can give advice that will reduce the risk of more falls.”
Common causes of falls include medication problems, footwear and foot care, and cataracts or eyesight problems. Norma adds, “It’s really important that people look after their eye health, that their glasses are clean and that the lenses have the latest prescription.”
Raising the alarm after a fall can be made much simpler by using special Telecare technology to automatically detect when a fall has occurred as Louise Bell Head of Older People Services explains: “For many people the community alarm pendant is a lifeline but sometimes they forget to press it after a bad fall. That’s when telecare devices that can detect a fall and automatically raise the alarm can prevent a situation from rapidly worsening. No-one likes to loose their confidence and telecare can provide a safety-net for independent living.”
Councillor Judy Hamilton, Executive Spokesperson for Social Work and Health added: “The services provided by Mobile Emergency Care Service, Community Alarms and Telecare give real peace of mind to people using them and also to their families. They give independence and dignity to people whilst keeping them safe.”
If you would like to find out more about the Community Alarms or Telecare services contact Social Work online at www.fifefirect.org.ukor by calling 01383 441177.
For more information contactJohn Honeyman, Telecare Training and Marketing Adviser
Tel: 08451 55 55 55 + Ext 47 41 17 Fax: 01592 583596 Contact John Honeyman online
By Post: Fife Council, Fife House, North Street, Glenrothes, KY7 5LT