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Vitamin D supplements linked to decrease in falls

ACC Media Release

8 August 2013

Vitamin D supplements linked to decrease in falls in aged care facilities

An ACC-led programme to reduce falls amongst older people has passed two significant milestones, reaching more people and helping to reduce falls.

The programme, delivered in collaboration with DHBs / PHOs, the Ministry of Health and Aged Care provides Vitamin D supplements to residents of aged care facilities.

International evidence shows Vitamin D can help reduce falls, as well as the severity of fall-related injuries, by strengthening muscle and bones and improving posture and balance.

Almost three-quarters (74%) of residents in aged care facilities across New Zealand are now receiving the supplements.

ACC programme manager Lee Henley says when the programme was launched in 2007, only 16% of aged care residents were prescribed Vitamin D supplements.

“It’s great that we’re continuing to get more DHBs and facilities behind the programme, which means residents are taking supplements and falls are coming down.”

“Falls can have a big impact on older people, severely limiting their mobility and independence. So by avoiding falls, older people can enjoy a much better quality of life.”

The reported frequency of falls among older adults is higher than those living in their own homes, which is why the ACC-led programme targets residential facilities.

“Older people living in facilities tend to spend less time outside, so they get less Vitamin D through sunlight, which is the main source of the vitamin. The supplements are proving an effective way to redress this imbalance.”

In partnership with the Health Quality Safety Commission, ACC is now planning to further increase the percentage of people receiving Vitamin D supplements. ACC is also working with the Health Quality Safety Commission and DHBs / PHOs to move this project into community settings.

Vitamin D is only effective for people who have a deficiency in Vitamin D levels, and must be prescribed to be effective. ACC is currently funding a trial with Nelson Bays PHO, to ascertain how to identify people dwelling in the community who would benefit from receiving Vitamin D supplements.


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