ONE in three adults over 65 will experience a fall at least once a year in Salford causing injuries and requiring hospital admission.
The Active Lifestyles Team of Salford Community Leisure is running a programme to prevent elderly people from falling over and to improve stability during standing, walking and other functional movements.
According to NHS Salford CCG, there are around 11,667 falls by people over 65 years old in Salford while NHS England spends £15 million a year nationwide on fall related injuries and another £2 billion on hip fractures.
Postural Stability is a free of charge progressive 24 week course, starting every 6 or 12 weeks depending upon demand, which aims to improve strength, balance and functional mobility. The classes are an hour and a half long and this is made up of an hour exercise followed by half an hour of tea and biscuits.
Clients can then progress onto Step Up, a more advanced ongoing maintenance programme which is delivered in more of a circuit style. These classes are £2 per session or £2.50 for those who get transport. Transport is provided for both Postural Stability and Step Up.
Lucy MacCallum, Active Lifestyles Development Officer, said: “Exercises include those for stamina, strength, balance and flexibility. Home exercises are also given out so that clients can practice keeping active in between sessions.
“These interventions have a huge impact on older people’s overall wellbeing. Targeted, specific and progressive exercise can improve various risk factors of falls including poor muscle strength, poor balance and functional ability, poor coordination and other factors.
“The programme aims to improve confidence, maintain independence, reduce falls and hospital admissions, and reduce social isolation. Clients report numerous benefits including improved ability in managing day to day activities and improved confidence.
“In addition to physical benefits the classes are equally beneficial for social wellbeing. Many of the clients who attend can be socially isolated and people say the classes make them feel like a brighter person.
“With the next phase of expansion the programme is expected to see more clients who are at risk of falling but who have yet to fall, in this way the sessions will act as prehab to try and prevent falls before they happen in addition to trying to reduce falls in those who have already experience a fall.”
Apart from causing an injury, falls often have an effect on confidence and cause a fear of further falls which can reduce activity resulting in further deconditioning and an increased likelihood of other falls.
By attending these classes along with taking other steps such as home safety checks, sight checks and medication checks, clients are helped to manage their health better and improve their strength, functional mobility, reducing the risk of falls and improving their day to day lives.
Dr Tom Tasker, Salford GP and chair of NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “A fall can happen in the blink of an eye but it can have devastating, life-changing consequences for older people and falls are the most common cause of death from injury in over 65s.
“But, while they can be caused by a range of reasons including medical conditions, lifestyle, poor eyesight and hazards such as ill-fitting shoes and slippery surfaces, falls are not inevitable. They can be prevented, especially with training to strengthen muscles and techniques to improve balance, while also reviewing medication and assessing hazards in the home.”
The Active Lifestyles Team is also setting up Tai Chi for Balance sessions in the New Year as an additional part of the programme.