Falls awareness week

24 June 2010

Pictured left to right are Samantha Winter, Sian Williams (a participant in the research), Annmarie Butlin (Co-director of Age Concern Ceredigion), David Langford (Registered Exercise Professional for the Leri Day Ward), and Fiona Higgs (the Ph.D. student conducting the research).
Pictured left to right are Samantha Winter, Sian Williams (a participant in the research), Annmarie Butlin (Co-director of Age Concern Ceredigion), David Langford (Registered Exercise Professional for the Leri Day Ward), and Fiona Higgs (the Ph.D. student conducting the research).
National Falls Awareness Week (21-25th June) marks the start of a research collaboration between Bronglais General Hospital, Age Concern Ceredigion and the Department of Sport and Exercise Science at Aberystwyth University. 

The research, funded by the Hywel Dda Charitable Funds Committee and a European Social Fund Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship, will help consultants at Bronglais Hospital identify older adults at risk of falling, and will then monitor changes in health and quality of life during and following a strength and balance training programme. 

Researchers at the university will monitor changes in muscle mass, balance, strength and psychological quality of life as older adults progress through the training programmes provided by Age Concern Ceredigion and the Leri Day ward in Bronglais Hospital. It is hoped the research findings will help plan the future provision of such programmes in the local areas. 

Dr Samantha Winter who is leading the research said, “The Department of Sport and Exercise Science is pleased to be involved in this research as there is good evidence that exercise programmes like the one provided by Age Concern Ceredigion help prevent falls. 

The consequences of a fall can be very severe for older people.  Even minor falls can reduce people’s confidence and restrict their activity.  We hope our research will help older people remain independent for longer, and make sure older people remain visible in the community they helped to create.”

The Leri Day ward runs a weekly Falls Clinic delivered by Dr Hugh Chadderton and provides older adults from Aberystwyth and the surrounding areas with a carefully constructed falls assessment service. 

One of the recommendations by the service is a supervised exercise programme aimed to improve strength, flexibility and balance control as well as increasing overall confidence and the ability to carry out everyday activities, for example, walking, cooking and bathing or showering.

The majority of patients are referred straight into community classes, with a class size between ten and fifteen participants. However a new rapid response programme has been developed for patients who require immediate attention, which involves enrolment into a smaller hospital based programme within a week of attending the clinic, which has a class size between four and eight. 

This programme is designed to improve strength and balance to a level where patients can safely attend the community based classes. The research collaboration will assess the outcomes of the community and hospital based classes. It is expected the delivery of these classes will effectively reduce the number of falls in the community as well as reduce the costs incurred to the NHS by falls each year.

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