Tuesday, February 28, 2012

ACT Falls Prevention Forum

ACT Health Directorate hosted its first Falls Prevention Forum at the University of Canberra on 9 February 2012.

The forum was opened by ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Paul Kelly, who said the response from participants had been overwhelming, which indicated the clear need to hold such a forum.  The audience comprised about 75 people, which included clinicians, government and non-government organisations, the community and aged care sectors and consumers. 

The ACT has the fastest growing number of people aged over 65 in Australia and falls are a leading cause of injury among the elderly and are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in Australia.  There are, for instance, far more deaths resulting from falls than from car accidents.  Injuries to limbs are the most common, followed by head and neck injuries.   ACT Health Directorate is committed to working with other government departments to significantly reduce the rate of falls and is particularly concentrating on hospitals, aged care facilities and the home, which is where the majority of falls occur.

I attended this forum as a HCCA consumer representative.  The speakers were well prepared and presented a range of information about a number of ACT falls reduction initiatives.  They also talked about research and data collection in the ACT and how this was being used to reduce the incidence of falls-related injuries.

Cathy Baker, Acting Director, Epidemiology Branch, stated that 10.4% of ACT residents in are in the age group (65 years plus) with the greatest falls risk, that 20% of all injury deaths in 2007 were falls-related; in 2009-10 over 1000 people were hospitalised because of a fall, and the good news for ACT residents that the rate of falls resulting in injury has decreased over the past three years.

Irene Lake, Executive Officer, Research Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Practice, reported that the number of falls in ACT hospitals is declining and attributed this decrease to The Canberra Hospital  Falls Prevention Program.  The ACT Health Falls Clinic is also playing an important role in assessing people who are at risk of falling or who have had falls.  The Clinic performs detailed assessments and advises consumers on strategies to reduce their falls risk. 

Other presentations including information about helping people with musculoskeletal conditions to stay on their feet,  an update on the Stepping On Program and Falls Clinic, and the Commonwealth Government’s “Liveable Housing design guidelines”. 

Further details about the ACT Falls Prevention Forum presentations are available here

Jo Bothroyd
HCCA Consumer Representative