Technology to support those at risk of falling: free resource

We have been contacted by Sue Williams, Project Development Manager, ADASS West Midlands, who is keen to promote a free information leaflet about technology to support people at risk of falling, how it can help and how people can obtain it, either through Local Authority Telecare services or self purchase. She is keen for Telehealth & Telecare Aware readers to use it to raise awareness of how technology can play a key role in the support available to people at risk of falling and their families and carers.

She explains that in 2012 it was estimated 800 people fell daily in the West Midlands where fall detectors were an under-used resource. By sending an alert so that someone knows a person has fallen, a fall detector does make a difference to living independently by restoring confidence. And of course if someone does fall, getting help quickly makes a real difference as there is a very strong direct correlation between recovery and how long people lie on the floor after a fall; the speedier the response, the lower the risk of hospital admission, and the shorter the length of hospital stay & subsequent support requirements on discharge. (Readers may wish to check out the very detailed statistics produced by a project on fallers in Torbay that we covered in August.  Studies in the US have also shown much greater mortality within a year of a fall if the faller has lain on the ground for many hours.)

The Health Design & Technology Institute, Coventry University and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services West Midlands Regional Telehealthcare Network and Warwickshire PCT were funded by NHS West Midlands to evaluate the use of fall detectors within the West Midlands. More information about the project is here.

This project resulted in a very clear understanding from people who wear fall detectors, their carers and the staff who support them about why, when and where they are currently used and more importantly, how they could be deployed to maximum effect within a falls care pathway. The project highlighted a lack of knowledge and low public and practitioner awareness which acted as a barrier to the use and adoption of fall detectors.

Of course, fall detection is only part of the spectrum of falls interventions, so the project went on to consider the use of technology more widely in falls prevention and response services.

Together with the leaflet (which Sue says you are welcome to download free and customise to reflect local service arrangements and contacts), other resources on the website include:

  • A good practice guide for staff on the successful use of fall detectors supported by digital case studies
  • A report on the identification and sharing of good practice, service innovation and whole system thinking within falls prevention and response services across the region
  • A falls prevention smart phone app containing advice to support self care through awareness raising and access to low level technologies readily available in the high street/ internet (due to be launched at the end of 2013)

Nikki Holliday at the email address below can also supply hard copies of the leaflet, although there will be a printing charge.

Finally, if you would like to discuss any other aspect of this project or need any additional information, please contact any members of the project steering group:

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