If your relative has experienced a fall, you will want to ensure that everything possible is done to reduce the chances of them falling again.
On this page you can find information on:
1. Arranging a follow-up home visit
2. The NHS and falls prevention
3. Healthcare professionals
Arranging a follow-up home visit
If the hospital that treated your relative has not arranged a follow-up home visit by a specialist, you have the option of making your own arrangements. There are two ways you can do this:
1. Contact the NHS Trust operating in your relative's area and ask to speak to their falls prevention team. Again, it is not guaranteed that the NHS will be able to send someone to visit and assess your relative - but you have every right to speak to them and ask what help they can provide. For more information, see below.
2. Engage the service of a private healthcare professional: if you wish to do this, see the information on falls prevention professionals below. Be aware that if you are hiring a healthcare professional privately, it will be your responsibility to pay for their services.
The NHS and falls prevention
NHS Trusts have dedicated falls prevention teams, tasked with the specific aim of reducing falls amongst older people. The teams exist in recognition that:
- falls present a serious to the health and wellbeing of older people
- hospitals come under great demand as a result of these incidents.
However, the resources within each trust are different and falls prevention teams may often be required to work on a priority basis, with 'frequent fallers' (a recurrent faller with a history of three or more falls per year), or those seen to be at the greatest risk of becoming frequent fallers, given the highest priority. For this reason, you should never assume that the NHS is able to send a falls prevention specialist to see your relative after they have had a fall.
You should also be aware that NHS falls prevention services may vary from region to region in terms of their strategies, resources, priorities and workload.
The best step to take is to make sure that your relative is seen by a healthcare professional, such as an occupational therapist or physiotherapist, who has experience in falls prevention. This professional will carry out an assessment – both of the person and of their environment (home) – to understand the potential risks and the underlying causes of a repeat fall. They can then advise on the right next steps and, where possible, deliver solutions.
If your relative was admitted to hospital following a fall and has since been discharged, the hospital should have arranged a care plan that could include a visit from a falls prevention professional. However, be aware that this type of aftercare is not always provided by the NHS. If the situation seems unclear, you should speak to the hospital and ask for clarification.
Other steps you can take to reduce the risks of your relative falling
Many falls in older people happen for reasons that may be ‘avoidable’; for example, loose carpets or rugs that present a trip hazard, or insufficient lighting on a stairway. By carrying out a few simple checks you may be able help your relative make their home safer. For more information, see Common causes and reducing the risks of falls.
- Getting a needs assessment: our guide to help explain the process of applying for help.
- Dealing with a medical emergency: advice and guidance on what to expect if your relative is admitted to hospital in an emergency.
- Using the stairs: if your relative is at risk from a fall, you can find practical advice here about safety around the home.
Page last reviewed: 31 January 2016
Next review due: 31 August 2017