gormley k.j. (2011) Falls prevention and support: translating research, integrating services and promoting the contribution of service users for quality and innovative programmes of care. International Journal of Older People Nursing6, 307–314
Falls are a significant threat to the safety, health and independence of older citizens. Despite the substantial evidence that is available around effective falls prevention programmes and interventions, their translation into falls reduction programmes and policies has yet to be fully realised. While hip fracture rates are decreasing, the number and incidence of fall-related hospital admissions among older people continue to rise. Given the demographic trends that highlight increasing numbers of older people in the UK, which is broadly reflected internationally, there is a financial and social imperative to minimise the rate of falls and associated injuries. Falling is closely aligned to growing older (Slips, Trips and Falls Update: From Acute and Community Hospitals and Mental Health Units in England and Wales, Department of Health, HMSO, London, 2010). According to the World Health Organization, around 30% of older people aged over 65 and 50% of those over 80 will fall each year (Falls Fact Sheet Number 344, WHO, Geneva, 2010). Falls happen as a result of many reasons and can have harmful consequences, including loss of mobility and independence, confidence and in many cases even death (Cochrane Database Syst Rev 15, 2009, 146; Slips, Trips and Falls Update: From Acute and Community Hospitals and Mental Health Units in England and Wales, Department of Health, HMSO, London, 2010; Falling Standards, Broken Promises: Report of the National Audit of Falls and Bone Health in Older People 2010, Health Care Quality Improvement Partnership, London, 2011). What is neither fair nor correct is the common belief by old and young alike that falls are just another inconvenience to put up with. The available evidence justifiably supports the view that well-organised services, based upon national standards and expert guidance, can prevent future falls among older people and reduce death and disability from fractures. This paper will draw from the UK, as an exemplar for policy and practice, to discuss the strategic direction of falls prevention programmes for older people and the partnerships that need to exist between researchers, service providers and users of services to translate evidence to the clinical setting. Second, it will propose some mechanisms for disseminating evidence to healthcare professionals and other stakeholders, to improve the quality and capacity of the clinical workforce.