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Over 216,000 NZers make ACC claim for falls in year

Over 216,000 New Zealanders make ACC claim for falls in year

New data shows that in a 12-month period more than 216,000 people over 50 made an ACC claim related to a fall. Just over 27,000 people attended hospital as a result of a fall.

The data is from the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s Atlas of Healthcare Variation - a website that uses maps, graphs, tables and words to show differences in health care in New Zealand by district health board.

Geriatrician and member of the Commission’s Falls Atlas Expert Advisory Group, Dr Shankar Sankaran [1], says the figures represent pain, immobility and inconvenience for a large number of people.

‘The effects of a fall on older people are most serious. Only half of those over 80 who survive a hip fracture will walk unaided again, and many will not regain their former degree of mobility.

‘Between 10 and 20 percent will be admitted to aged residential care as a result of the fracture. Sadly, 27 percent of those over 80 will die within a year of their hip fracture.’

He says a fall can make older people afraid of falling again, which stops them doing their usual activities. This can lead to social isolation and even depression.’

Two years ago Upper Hutt’s Yvonne Price, now 81, had a fall on the deck of her daughter’s house and badly broke her ankle. She spent three weeks in hospital, and then had to use a walking frame for six weeks after she got home. She says her walking has never got back to what it had been.

"I’m much slower now, everything seems to take much longer that it did. I also get tired much more easily. But I’m hopeful my walking will get back to what it was - it’s just taking a lot longer than I thought."

Shankar Sankaran says there are a number of things older people can do to reduce their risk of having a fall.

‘These include checking their home for items such as loose mats or rugs, removing clutter and making sure there is adequate lighting.

‘Wearing sturdy footwear, checking prescriptions for glasses are up-to-date and checking with your doctor to see if any medications they take are still necessary, are all ways in which older people can reduce their risk.’

This month is April Falls month, an annual campaign that raises awareness of the harm caused by falls, and what can be done to prevent them. April Falls is promoted by an increasing number of health care providers around the country, including district health boards, aged residential care providers, and community care providers.

It will increasingly align with the Live Stronger for Longer movement which is supported by the Health Quality & Safety Commission, ACC and the Ministry of Health.

[1] Dr Shankar Sankaran was the Chair of the Commission’s Falls National Expert Advisory Group, is a Consultant Geriatrician at Middlemore Hospital, Auckland, and a clinical advisor to ACC.

For more information
April Falls 2018 key messages
Live Stronger for Longer website
Home safety checklist
Background: Falls in people aged 50 and over
Data from the Commission’s Atlas of Healthcare Variation shows:
- In 2016, 216,000 people aged 50 and over had one or more ACC claims for a fall-related injury accepted.
- This was a significant increase from 170,000 claims in 2011. Claims varied 1.7-fold between DHB.
- Of people aged 85+, 25 percent had at least one ACC claim due to a fall in 2016.
- This equated to 56 ACC claims per day among those aged 85+.
- 27,000 people aged 50+ attended hospital following a fall in 2016. Older people and women had higher attendance rates.
- Attendance rates increased significantly with age: those aged 85 and over had 8 times more attendances than those aged 65-74 and 16 times more attendances than those aged 50-64 years.
- 21,000 people admitted to hospital with a fall stayed more than a day.
- This was 77 percent of all people attending hospital after a fall.
The updated falls Atlas domain was released on 3 April 2018.
ENDS

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