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Dame Kate Harcourt supports April Falls 2014 themes

Dame Kate Harcourt supports April Falls 2014 themes

Health Quality & Safety Commission media release, 9 April 2014

Dame Kate Harcourt knows first-hand the impact a fall can have, and is telling her story as April Falls month gets under way. She supports the idea that preventing falls is everyone’s business.

The acclaimed New Zealand actress, 86, had a fall at home last year that left her unconscious, with a broken nose and wrist.

Falls are the leading cause of injuries to older people, yet many falls can be prevented by addressing underlying health conditions or problems with strength, balance or mobility.

Dame Kate says the worst thing about the fall was being unable to drive for six weeks. Her family did her grocery shopping, but she wasn't able to go to the library – she reads five books a week – or attend a regular Monday lunch with friends. She also had to cancel a voiceover job.

People can help prevent falls at home by making their environment as safe as possible. Some steps to consider include removing or securing loose mats, keeping hallways and pathways uncluttered (especially to and from the bathroom), having good lighting and wearing well-fitting shoes.

The Health Quality & Safety Commission is supporting district health boards and other healthcare providers in raising awareness of falls prevention through the month-long national April Falls promotion.

Sandy Blake, Director of Nursing, and Clinical Lead for the Commission’s national programme to reduce harm from falls, says 90 percent of falls happen in the community. Many people who fall need hospital treatment.

“Not only is the harm from falls devastating for the person who has fallen, and distressing for their families and whanau, but it often means the person has to have extra medical tests and treatment. People who have had falls may end up staying longer in hospital, or needing to go into a rest home,” she says.
“What works best is if health workers discuss falls risks with an older person with a view to developing a plan of action if needed.

“Risk assessments and care plans should be developed with older people and their family/whanau, and must address all the risks identified for each individual.”

Key messages and guidance around early screening, risk assessment and care planning is available through the Ask assess, act resource being promoted through April Falls 2014.

Further information on April Falls can be found here: and more information on the Commission’s national patient safety campaign, Open for better care, can be found at


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