Coventry University has designed a new app which offers advice to people on how to prevent falls at home.
The Fallcheck app, which works on all mobile devices and via the web, provides information on potential fall hazards in the home alongside easy to follow instructions on how to minimise risk so as to prevent accidents happening.
The free app was developed by experts at Coventry University’s Health Design & Technology Institute (HDTI) and its Centre for Excellence in Learning Enhancement (CELE). It came about following an initial NHS West Midlands funded research project in which HDTI led a small consortium tasked with evaluating the use of fall detection and prevention equipment amongst people across the region.
Findings from this preliminary research programme revealed that of all the equipment available to help prevent falls, digital technologies were being underused. With this knowledge, the team secured further funding to develop the Fallcheck app alongside other materials aimed at people at risk of falling and their carers, as well as health and social care professionals.
The new resources include a booklet, a video and a good practice guide and while all have been well received the Fallcheck app has proved the most popular. With content based on nationally approved guidance for falls prevention, the app was designed with input from occupational therapists, falls experts and telecare advisors.
Coventry University’s Dr Gillian Ward, who led the research, said:
“Around one in three adults over 65 who live at home will have at least one fall a year, and about half of these will have more frequent falls, but it’s not just the older population who are affected by falls.
“It is a serious health issue and there is lots of support available. However, we discovered that some of the digital technologies that can make a difference, like fall detectors, sensors and alarms, were hugely underused in parts of the region.
“The main reason for this was a lack of knowledge so we have produced these new resources, including the app, to help. All have been well received but people have responded especially well to the app. It’s free to download and helps to involve all members of the family in fall prevention.
“The Fallcheck app is very simple to use. It highlights potential hazards in different areas of the home and offers solutions for preventing a fall occurring. This could be something as easy as rearranging the furniture or removing a rug but, where more needs to be done, the app signposts the user to simple technology solutions and national resources on falls prevention, as well as telecare support available to the user.”
Since its launch the Fallcheck app has attracted over 1,000 downloads and professionals working in healthcare have also endorsed its use. Michelle Palmer, a moving and handling advisor at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, heard about the app from a colleague and wanted to find out if it would benefit patients.
“I think the app is very useful. It’s easily accessible for most patients or their relatives. I definitely recommend it and I’ve spoken about it to a number of colleagues throughout the country who deal with falls.
“I would like to see all patients who are to be discharged following a fall using it to help them identify how they can reduce the recurrence of falls at home. I also think that the app should be advertised in GP surgeries so people may access it prior to having a fall.”
The Fallcheck app is web enabled so can be used on any smart mobile device as well as a PC. The app is free to download from www.coventry.ac.uk/fallcheck.