Everyone stumbles or trips at some point, making us feel a bit silly or embarrassed. But for some older people, falling can become a serious worry and the impact can be devastating for people with serious illnesses, their relatives and carers. Falls destroy confidence, increase isolation and reduce independence, with around 1 in 10 older people who fall becoming afraid to leave their homes just in case they fall again. The good news is that there’s positive action everyone can take to stay healthy and firmly on two feet.
This week gives us the opportunity to find out more about falls and a local service that helps to prevent them. Katie Hammond, Falls Prevention Caseworker, from Care and Repair tells us more.
Care and Repair is the Home Improvement Agency for Leeds which has been assisting older and disabled people to live in a warm, safe and secure environment for 26 years. It provides a wide range of client- centred services, including the Prevention of Falls service which visits over 640 people a year. Caseworkers arrange home visits and carry out a falls prevention assessment to assess for hazards. The service can:
- provide grab rails/ stair rails and carry out other safety measures;
- carry out a bathing assessment and provide equipment eg, bath board and bath seat;
- give practical advice about how to avoid falls and
- advise and refer to other agencies.
A referral can be taken as long as the person is aged 60 or over and is registered with a GP in Leeds. The service is available to anyone and is not means tested. Referrals can be made by various professionals, as well as self referrals, and from friends and family of anyone who may be worried about falling in their home. Katie added: “Let me tell you about Mrs L who we visited recently. She got in touch with the Prevention of Falls Service after hearing about Care and Repair from her neighbour who had also used the service. “Mrs L lives alone in a private property and has arthritis and back problems. Her original enquiry was for grab rails to the front door as she struggled with the high doorstep. But, during the assessment it became clear that she was crawling up the internal staircase on her hands and knees and this had become ‘normal’. We suggested extra banister rails would offer enough support to stop this happening anymore. Rails were also put in the bathroom. Mrs L was also put in touch with the West Yorkshire Fire Service for new smoke alarms as hers were broken.”
Here a few suggestions that may prevent falls and trips within your home:
- Lighting – check that all rooms (especially stairways) are well lit.
- Electrical wires and sockets – to avoid feeling dizzy, do not bend down to electrical sockets. Have them raised as necessary. Avoid trailing wires and have extra sockets fitted if necessary.
- Carpets and rugs – make sure that all floors and stairways are free from clutter. Remove all rugs and mats, especially from smooth floorings, and do not polish under rugs.
- Furniture – take care when sitting or rising from a chair to reduce quick movements.
- Windows and doors – ensure that door and windows can be opened easily. Avoid climbing on stools or other objects to open windows or to access objects which may be out of reach.
- Stairways – avoid leaving items on the side of the stairs. Avoid hanging coats etc over the banister rails.
- Bathroom – a rubber mat should be used in the bottom of a shower or bath.
- Bedroom – ensure that you are not walking across a dark room when getting into or out of bed. Use a bedside lamp or have a pull switch fitted over the bed. Take time when getting out of bed, get up in stages to avoid dizziness.
- Garden and paths – keep outside areas well lit. Ensure that all paths are even and paving slabs are not cracked or broken.
For more information about the Prevention of Falls Service or to make a referral, please contact Sharon on 0113 2009156 or Katie on 0113 2009169. You can also visit the website: http://www.care-repair-leeds.org.uk/.