Calgary Health Foundation

Tis the Season for Slips and Falls

Helping Seniors Thrive: The North Home Care Fall Prevention Team

Tis the Season for Slips and FallsContrary to popular belief, falls are not a normal part of the aging process. Attributed to a number of risk factors, including lack of social/support network, poor living conditions, pre-existing medical issues, poor building design and, especially during the winter, icy conditions, falls account for 65 per cent of injuries among Canada's senior population.

The cost to the Canadian health care system equals 2.4 billion dollars annually; one billion of the total can be attributed to direct health care costs. These numbers are huge and as our population ages the numbers will only grow. However, programs like the North Home Care Falls Prevention Team (NHCFPT) aim to reduce these numbers.

The NHCFPT, supported by Calgary Health Trust and generous donors like Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), provides a comprehensive Fall Risk Assessment for seniors receiving Home Care services. This consultative service provides a Fall Risk assessment, identifies fall risk factors and develops and implements the intervention strategies to prevent a fall. The Team responds to seniors who are at risk for a fall, who have had a fall in the past three months, or have gone to the emergency department as a result of a fall. The invaluable service provided by the Team meets the Continuing Care Health Services Standards, meets Accreditation Standards for Home Care Programs in Canada and adheres to quality and safety requirements for home care service provided by Alberta Health Services.

Collaborating with the client, their family, the Family Physician, Pharmacist, Dietician and Social Workers the Team creates a network to help seniors deal with their fall and gives them back the confidence they may have lost. This strategy has been extremely successful.

Falls are the leading cause of serious injury to older adults. Forty per cent of nursing home admissions are because of a fall. The Integrated Home Care Fall Prevention Team as a whole has received 275 referrals for Fall Risk Assessment, provided consultation and assessment for 187 seniors from September 2011 to September 2012. This represents 20 per cent of the Home Care clients who are medically complex, meet the referral criteria for consultation to the Fall Prevention Team and reside in the community. The North Home Care Fall Prevention Team has assisted 70 of these seniors which represents an increase of 38 per cent of people who have received this consultative service as a result of RBC's funding. Those 70 individuals would not have received any type of Fall Risk Assessment were it not for the existence of the North Home Care Team.

Even though it is early days for the North Home Care Falls Prevention Team the impact on the community has been overwhelmingly positive. Thirty eight per cent of the seniors assessed in the past year have reported no falls six months later and 57.5 per cent reported no emergency department visit six months post fall assessment & intervention. These numbers speak louder than words, the Team is having a tremendous impact in the lives of the seniors they serve and these figures can only grow as the Team progresses and they are able to see more and more clients.

You can make a difference in senior's lives by supporting the North Home Care Falls Prevention Team by donating to seniors health in Calgary.

Facts About Falls

  • One out of every three senior citizens fall every year, which translates to more than 140,000 seniors experiencing falls in Alberta in 2012.
  • Two out of three seniors who fall will fall again within six months.
  • Falls are the leading cause of loss of independence.
  • Falls are the leading cause of injury death for senior's 80 years of age and older in Alberta. Fall related hospital admissions accounted for 74 per cent of injury admissions for seniors. (ACICR 2006)
  • Nine per cent of all Emergency Department visits are due to falls. (CHR 2006/7)
  • It is estimated that approximately 60,000 falls go unreported annually in the Calgary area alone.
  • The economic burden of falls in Alberta in 2004 amounted to $506 million in direct care costs in the senior population.
  • In 2004/05 over $31 million was spent in Calgary repairing 793 hip fractures, 93 per cent of which were related to falls.
  • 20 per cent of Seniors with hip fractures die within the first year. Two out of three never return to their previous level of functioning.
  • Hip fracture is a key indicator for admission to a Long Term Care Facility.
  • By 2033 when all the baby boomers become senior citizens, the cost of seniors' falls, if left unchecked, is expected to reach $250 million per year. These costs do not include Emergency Department visits, payments to physicians and physiotherapists, home care, medication costs or costs to the individual. If these costs were included this number would rise to over $368 million every year. (Schopflocher, Drul 2006)