At a time when we are striving to address the challenges of demographic change and rising demands on public services, it is vital we understand the human and economic cost of falls. A fall can be a life-changing event for an older person; triggering a downward spiral of loss of confidence and independence, with increased dependence on health and social care services. Much of the activity of unscheduled care services is a consequence of falls and fractures among older people.
However, the good news is that falls and fractures do not have to be an inevitable part of ageing. Evidence suggests that with timely intervention, a significant proportion of falls and fractures are avoidable and that when they do occur, rehabilitation and re-ablement can be key to supporting older people to retain or restore their independence.
Since the publication of HDL (13) 2007 and the Delivery Framework for Adult Rehabilitation, considerable work has been undertaken locally and nationally to improve services for falls and fracture prevention and management in Scotland. It is clear from this mapping exercise, undertaken by the National Falls Programme, that many individuals, services and organisations are actively engaged and committed to this improvement agenda. However, the report also identifies that we need to do more to reduce undesirable variation in our practice by adopting, spreading and embedding best practice before we can achieve truly transformational change.
We have the opportunity to use the information in this report to reflect with all our partners on our progress to date, and identify the next steps that need to be taken to transform our falls and bone health services on a whole system basis. The actions and recommendations proposed aim to ensure that we deliver effective and person-centred care, but also enable us to measure and demonstrate the positive impact evidence-based falls and fracture prevention and management can make.
The Reshaping Care for Older People Programme for Change states, "Providing high quality care and support for older people is a fundamental principle of social justice and is an important hallmark of a caring and compassionate society". Effective falls and fracture prevention can make a real difference to the lives of older people and has a significant contribution to make to enacting these principles.
Chief Health Professions Officer
Email: Angela Worth