Falling in Torbay – a mine of useful information (UK)

The Kings Fund has just produced a detailed analysis of the total health & social care costs for older people admitted to hospital following a fall in Torbay over a 12 month period.  This should be of serious interest to anyone writing business cases for falls-related technology or generally doing any financial calculations in that area. (Torbay has excellent integration of patient/service user records that enables this analysis to be done with great accuracy).

The headline finding is that the total health and social care costs of dealing with older people who have had a fall that they have had to go to hospital for, in the year after that fall, is almost four times the immediate cost of the unplanned hospitalisation after the fall.  Unsurprisingly, for those who die within a year of the fall, total costs are somewhat higher than for those who survive.  Using the Kings Fund’s figures I calculate that the incremental health & social care cost of a fall is just under £7,000 (which includes both the immediate hospitalisation cost and the following years’ costs, less the previous year’s costs). This of course ignores the costs to the individual, their family and community.

Many readers will by now doubtless be wondering whether the costs of falling were reduced for those fallers who were Torbay Lifeline users as conventional wisdom is that the cost is very dependent on the length of time someone remains on the ground before being rescued.  Sad to report that analysis was not done (see comments on the paper – I have requested it). Nevertheless it is a brilliant resource for anyone looking for cost information on this very important topic.