A blueprint for rolling out a falls prevention programme has been released on the back of a successful regional study.
The community-based Falls Management Exercise Programme (FaME) improves balance, walking speed and reduces fear of falling, with a study in 2014 showing that it increases physical activity levels and significantly reduced falls by 26 per cent. It also provides techniques for getting down and up from the floor, should someone have a fall.
To make it easier for health providers across the country to roll out the FaME classes, an Implementation Manual for Commissioners has been produced by researchers from the University of Nottingham. They estimate widespread adoption of FaME could save the NHS more than £700 million.
This resource was developed from a study, which took place in Rutland, Leicestershire and Derby, and captured learning about how to successfully implement the falls prevention programme.
The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) East Midlands. Leicestershire County Council also supported the study.
Dr Elizabeth Orton, the lead researcher at the University of Nottingham who developed the Implementation Manual said: “Falls in later life can be devastating. They can lead to significant injury, loss of independence and confidence and even death. Falls are also costly to treat. The NHS spends £2.3billion per year treating the consequences of falls.
“The FaME programme can prevent falls, and that’s why it is being put into practice. An added benefit is that this could free up hospital beds and ease the financial burden on the NHS.
“We have tried to make it easier for barriers to implementation to be broken down and have provided a toolkit to promote better provision and reduce the postcode lottery of evidence-based exercise sessions.”
Professor Dawn Skelton, from Glasgow Caledonian University, the original researcher behind FaME, said “Maintaining strength and balance as we age is vital, but once we have had a few falls or lost confidence in our stability, FaME provides the skills to get back up off the floor, walk with confidence and adds life back to years”.
Marion Moloney, retired nurse from Leicestershire, took part in the regional pilot of the programme. The 70-year-old is now able to fully enjoy life with her eight grandchildren thanks to the exercise programme.
Marion, whose grandchildren are aged between seven and 18, says FaME has given her more energy and confidence. She started it three years ago.
She said: “It has enhanced my life, I feel better in myself, more motivated and able, I wouldn’t panic if I were to have a fall, I now know what to do. If other people or anyone gets the opportunity to go along, they should give it a try. When I was first told that I was going to a gym, I was very sceptical, but the stretches and exercises are straightforward and simple.
“Doing stretching exercises, I now know I can get something from a cupboard. I can get down and pick things up, before I used a long gripper. If you miss a week, you notice.
“With grandchildren when they are awake in the morning, there is a no sitting down reading the newspaper and having a cup of tea. They live in London, so when they come and stay with us, we are always active, walking around the shops, going to the cinema, days out, we have been to the National Space Centre in Leicester and Coventry Cathedral recently.”
If all people currently admitted to hospital as a result of a fall were offered and took up FaME, the net saving to health and social care could exceed £700 million. One of the barriers to these programmes being rolled out is the availability of a manual for implementation.
NIHR CLAHRC East Midlands is a partnership of the NHS, universities, patients and industry which sets out to improve patient outcomes by conducting research of local relevance and international quality.
To access the Implementation manual, click here.