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LGA calls for government to close funding gap to prevent falls among older people

Extra government funding for councils to increase their falls prevention strategies would reduce hospital admissions, according to the LGA.

Falls cost the NHS more than £2bn a year, and the number of hospital admissions of an older person following a fall is set to rise to almost 1,000 a day by the end of the decade.

This prediction has led to council leaders to call for more funding for adult social care to invest in cost-effective falls prevention work.

Falls can have “devastating and life-threatening consequences” to a person’s wellbeing and health, the LGA has said, but research has shown that councils' falls prevention programmes can reduce hospital admissions due to a fall by 29%.

It says that this reduction in hospital admissions produces a financial return of more than £3 for every £1 spent.

Many councils already offer comprehensive advice and guidance to help prevent falls amongst the older population, but say that further investment in this work is restricted due to government funding reductions.

The LGA is calling for the government to address the social care funding gap, which it says will exceed £2bn by 2020, and for adult social care to be put on an equal footing the NHS.

Simple changes to a person’s lifestyle or around the home can help to reduce the risk of falls, such as ensuring that carpets fit correctly, fitting handrails to stairs, and talking to their GP about dizziness that may be caused by medications.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA’s community and wellbeing board, called the fact that the number of falls is set to increase “shocking.”

She said: “The LGA has previously called for a prevention fund to invest in proven interventions, such as falls, and new research backs up the value of this work.

“Council-run fall prevention schemes, such as home assessment and modification programmes, have shown to significantly reduce the number of falls requiring hospital admission and to offer a good return on investment, saving money from the public purse.”

Seccombe added: “But some councils are being forced to stop such fall prevention services due to funding reductions, which has seen spending on prevention work from adult social care budgets reduced by more than £60 million in the past year.

“To reduce demand and cost pressures on the NHS, the government needs to switch its focus from reducing delayed discharges from hospital to preventing admissions in the first place and put adult social care and the NHS on an equal footing.”

Chief executive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Errol Taylor, added: “We also know that falls are putting a tremendous strain on health and social care services, and one that is set to rise unless co-ordinated action is taken.”

He continued: “Falls are also due to be a key priority in the National Accident Prevention Strategy, which will be published this year.”

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