Ask older people about falls during routine appointments, NICE advises health professionals

31 Jan 2017

Tackling the problem of falls amongst older people has been pushed up the health care agenda following the publication of an updated quality standard from NICE.

The updated guidance calls for health care professionals to ask people over 65 about falls during routine GP appointments, when they attend hospital and during home visits by social care workers.

Older people are at a high risk of falling, with research suggesting that approximately 30% of people aged 65 and up will fall at least once a year.

The update to the quality standard says they should be asked whether they have had falls in the last year, or consider themselves to be at risk of falling. For example, if they ever lose their balance or feel unsteady on their feet.

If an older person is then deemed to be at risk, health care professionals should refer the older person to the appropriate service.

Fizz Thompson, Clinical and Operations Director at the National Osteoporosis Society, welcomed the update.

"As the guidance highlights, it’s so important to check for osteoporosis in people who have fallen because an older person who trips, slips or falls is far likelier to break a bone. 

For many, falls and the fractures they can cause have a devastating and often life-changing impact.  By routinely asking older people about falls, we can make sure they are getting the help they need to stay fit, healthy and independent for as long as possible.  If we keep our bones strong and treat osteoporosis, hundreds of thousands of devastating fractures every year could be avoided.”

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