Rate of falls among older people has not declined since adoption of new HSE strategy


A HSE strategy introduced five years ago to combat falls among older people has not been implemented, a study has suggested. In 2008 the HSE introduced its falls strategy to combat a problem that is costing more than €500 million a year, a figure projected to rise to €1 billion a year with the ageing of the population.

It is estimated that 10 per cent of all older people need treatment following an injury and 75 per cent of those injuries are accounted for by falls.

The HSE’s strategy was to raise awareness in particular of osteoporosis, the bone disease which accounts for a large percentage of falls and is preventable in most cases. It also outlined best practice guidelines including the establishment of a multidisciplinary integrated falls and fractures team (MDT) in each acute hospital with the team being consultant-led.

According to Dr Anne O’Farrell of the Health Intelligence Unit of the HSE, the implementation of the strategy has not occurred and the number of deaths and hospital admissions due to falls has not declined.

She said falls had frequently long-term consequences. Half of all fallers who fracture their hips are never functional walkers again and 20 per cent will die within six months. Those who fracture their hip bone were 1.5 times more likely to die than those with other fractures.

Between 2005 and 2011, there were 1,402 deaths and 56,613 hospital discharges as a result of elderly people falling.

Some 70 per cent of those admitted for falls were women and just over half of them were discharged home.