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University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust

Falls prevention

In Dorset, there are over 200,000 over 65s, which means that more than 60,000 people are likely to fall each year.

For falls that happen in the community or at home, more than 9,000 of these will require an ambulance to attend, and 3,000 of these will require a stay in hospital due to an injury.

1,000 of these falls will result in a hip fracture which reduces a persons independence and life expectancy: Mortality rates indicate that 20% of people who sustain a hip fracture are likely to die within a year of their injury.

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is working with partners in the Dorset Health and Care system, and beyond to raise awareness of falls, the risks associated with falls, and the self-care actions that people can take to help themselves and their loved ones reduce their risks of falls.

Have you asked yourself:

Are you aware of the risks in your home and local community that could result in a slip, trip or fall?

Are you aware of the short and long term impact that falls can have on your health?

If you would like to learn more, these pages will help you to:

  • Take actions to reduce your (or your loved one’s) risk of falling.
  • Know what to do if you notice you (or a loved one) are starting to have slips and trips or have even had your first fall, thereby helping to reduce the risk of further falls.
  • Find out about some of the services and information that is available in the wider community, to help you stay as active and as independent as possible.

There are many reasons why a person may start to slip, trip or have falls. If you notice that slips, trips or falls are starting to occur for yourself or a loved one, there are some actions you can take to keep yourself and others safe.

First of all, do not be afraid to let someone know. For example, let your GP practice (and/or the health and social care teams involved in your care) know that you have had a fall, they may be able to arrange a health check involving a blood test and general examination to determine if there is a medical reason for any falls occurring.

A home environment assessment may be suggested and a referral raised. These involve checking for risks within the home that may impact on falls: for example, a slippery back step without a secure handrail.

Learn how to get up if you fall

Finding yourself, on the floor after a fall, can be a very scary experience.

If an injury has been sustained then telephoning for an ambulance may be the only option. If not, then knowing how to recover yourself from the floor can be very useful.

Falls don't have to be an inevitable part of growing older. Here are some of the things you can do to reduce your risk of falling at home and in your community:

  • Keep rooms and walkways uncluttered.
  • Hold onto the handrail on the stairs and use rails where you can.
  • Make sure that footwear is non-slip, well fitting and comfortable. Avoid high heels.
  • Seek advice from a professional if your feet are sore or painful i.e. pharmacist/GP.
  • Slow down, If you rush, sometimes your blood pressure does not have time to catch up. Don’t be worried about taking your time.
  • Don’t try to carry too much.
  • Clear up any spills.
  • Ask for help if needed.
  • If you’re feeling tired, sit down and rest.
  • Avoid going out in snow/icy conditions.
  • Ensure that your eyesight is tested regularly. You are entitled to free NHS eye tests if you are over the age of 60.

If you have been recommended to use a stick or walking frame, make sure:

  • That it is always close at hand.
  • That you are confident in using the equipment.

Keep moving!

Maintaining muscle strength and balance through gentle to moderate exercise makes a BIG difference to your overall health and is particularly beneficial in preventing falls.

Avoid sitting for long periods of time.

Swimming, dancing, and martial arts are fantastic exercises to get you moving and increase strength.

Have regular eye-sight checks

This should be every 2 years or yearly if over 70. Some opticians will visit you at your home, so it’s worth asking. If you wear glasses, remember to keep them clean so that you can see as clearly as possible: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/help-with-health-costs/free-nhs-eye-tests-and-optical-vouchers/

Problems with your hearing can affect your balance - arrange to have a hearing test if you have any concerns.

Remember to take any prescribed medication regularly as per instructions.

Some medications, or combinations of medications may have side-effects such as dizziness or affect your balance - ask your GP about this if you have any worries.

Feed those bones

As we age, our bone density decreases, so it is really important to eat foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D.

You can ask your GP to check whether you are getting enough of these, and boost your diet with foods like:



Oily Fish



Keep hydrated

remember to drink plenty of water (unless you have been advised otherwise by a clinician involved in your care).

If you notice changes in your digestion, this can lead to bladder and bowel issues which may increase your risk of falling.

If you need to come into hospital as an outpatient or you are admitted into hospital there are things you can do to reduce your risk of you falling.

Do not be afraid to tell someone if you have had a fall or have stopped yourself from falling on more than one occasion in the last twelve months.

If you are having to stay in hospital there are a few things that you can do to reduce any risks, including falling. These include:

  • It’s important to wear well fitting footwear with non slip soles.
  • Keep the area around you tidy and free from clutter
  • Use your call buzzer if you need help, feel dizzy when you get out of bed or if you need help in the bathroom or toilet.
  • Unless advised otherwise by a clinician, move around as you would at home. Wearing your day clothes and moving regularly will positively impact on both your physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Be aware that laying on the bed for prolonged periods of time can increase the risk of chest infections and pressure sores developing. Moving around as soon as is practically possible and engaging with staff who are there to support you will reduce what is known as ‘deconditioning’.
  • Ensure that you drink plenty, unless otherwise advised. Hospitals can be warm places and you do not want to get dehydrated.
  • If you have been recommended to use a walking frame or stick, make sure that it is always close at hand and that you are confident to use the equipment.

Older people living with frailty are at risk of adverse outcomes such as dramatic and unforeseen changes in their physical and mental wellbeing after an apparently minor event which challenges their health, such as an infection (e.g. a simple episode of the ‘flu), a major intervention (e.g. a joint replacement, or an injury (e.g. as a result of a fall).

Frailty is a distinctive health state related to the ageing process in which multiple body systems gradually lose their in-built reserves. Around 10 per cent of people aged over 65 years have frailty, rising to between a quarter and a half of those aged over 85.

It is important to recognise that:

  • Frailty varies in severity (individuals should not be labelled as being frail or not frail but simply that they have frailty).
  • The frailty state for an individual is not static; it can be made better and worse.
  • Frailty is not an inevitable part of ageing; it is a long term condition in the same sense that diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease is.

The higher a person’s frailty, the greater their risk of falls. Frailty can also affect a person’s ability to bounce back and live independently after a fall.

You can discuss with your GP how you can manage frailty and continue to live at home, as well as how friends and family members can support you to stay independent.

Here are 4 online resources to learn more about staying healthy and independent for longer as you get older:

There are plenty of things that you can do yourself to reduce your risk of a fall, and there are many organisations, charities and classes that can support you if you have any concerns

Relevant Services

The Day Hospital

The Day Hospital is based at Christchurch Hospital and provides specialist assessment, treatment and rehabilitation for older people

Click here to visit our Day Hospital pages
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