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Vitamin D supplements for resthome residents

Hon Maryan Street
Minister for ACC

22 October 2008 Media Statement
Under embargo until 6pm
Vitamin D supplements for resthome residents

Vitamin D supplements will be offered to people in residential care under a new initiative to reduce their chance of falling, ACC Minister Maryan Street announced today.

Maryan Street made the announcement while speaking to at the Osteoporosis New Zealand ‘You Deserve a Medal’ Awards in Wellington. The initiative between ACC, District Health Boards and Primary Health Organisations will see each of the 27,000 people in residential care assessed for their suitability to receive a monthly supplement.

Taking the supplement will be voluntary. The programme has begun in some areas this month and is scheduled to be rolled out nationally over the next year.

“About 30 per cent of people over 65 and 50 per cent of people over 80 who live in their own homes will fall each year. The likelihood of falling over is considerably higher again for people in residential care.” Maryan Street said.

“Research shows that many people in residential care are Vitamin D deficient because they rarely go out in the sun, which is the main source of Vitamin D. This can lead to weaker muscles and osteoporosis, which means not only are they more likely to fall, they may be more severely injured in that fall.”

“ACC and the Ministry of Health recently commissioned research that indicated boosting Vitamin D levels with supplements can reduce the chance of falling by 28 per cent. Vitamin D builds muscle strength, improves stability and helps with calcium absorption, which aids bone density. There are other health benefits.

“ACC will support the programme at a projected total cost of $730,000. Preventing falls, especially in older New Zealanders, is a priority for ACC which spends around $11 million dollars a year treating older people injured in a fall.”

“The programme is very cost-effective. We estimate it will prevent over 5,000 falls a year and prevent 335 moderate to severe injuries requiring hospitalisation and/or a greater level of care. That would save $2.3 million each year.”

“ACC already delivers two nationwide fall prevention programmes, Tai Chi and the Otago Exercise Programme, which are aimed at older New Zealanders living in their own homes,” Maryan Street said.


ENDS

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