Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that people over 65 were more likely to be hospitalised or die due to a fall than other age groups and 58% of hospitalisations in 2020–21 were for people over 65.
The health and aged care industry has been aware of the risks associated with older people falling for a while, and with this in mind, a new program has been launched in one of Sydney’s busiest hospitals to help reduce the number of older people going to the hospital because of a fall who then often move into aged care.
As part of a suite of preventive care initiatives to reduce emergency department presentations, the Strength Training, Rehabilitation and Outreach Needs in Geriatric Medicine program has been launched at the Concord Hospital to help older adults with chronic disease and frailty improve their physical strength and mental wellbeing.
The program will see older people assisted to manage chronic conditions through individualised high-intensity training programs covering balance, aerobic activities, and diet plans.
A similar pilot program at Balmain Hospital led to an 84% reduction in both nursing home admissions and mortality among those recovering from hip fractures.
New South Wales Health Minister, Ryan Park, said the program would help patients suffering from frailty and chronic disease remain active community members.
“This tried and tested program helps individuals to maintain their independence, reduce their risk of falls, and avoid hospitalisation,” he says.
The need to prevent falls is equally prevalent in our aged care industry, particularly those who have already had a fall and have injuries or health conditions because of it.
Earlier this year, a multi-million-dollar Government grant was awarded to Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) in partnership with Home Guardian and Deakin University for an Artificial Intelligence (AI) project that predicts and prevents falls in aged care.
The funds will be used to develop and manufacture smart monitoring devices, conduct research, and test the results across aged care homes from data that recognises the patterns of resident movement, fall predictors and prevention outcomes.
“This technology has the potential to not only help reduce hospital admissions and injuries, but also save lives,” said VMCH Chief Information Officer, Maria Paz.