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More action needs to be taken to prevent older people from suffering from falls within the community, and occupational therapists could have an important role to play in ensuring this.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has released a report looking at the growing prevalence of falls in the community (those that occur in people's own homes or while they are out and about) which it believes are on the rise due to a lack of preventative measures.
It has warned that if action is not taken to provide extra support to older people within the community, such as through occupational therapists, then as many as 1,000 patients could be being admitted to UK hospitals each day as a result of falls - something the NHS could not cope with in its current state.
However, there is evidence that local authorities that run dedicated fall prevention programmes can reduce the number of patients requiring hospital admission for this reason by an average of 29 per cent.
What's more, these initiatives tend to have a good return on investment, typically generating more than £3 for every £1 spent.
More work is needed to reduce the incidence of falls further though, with the LGA calling for greater awareness of preventative measures among the general public, and for the government to recognise social care as being as equally important as the rest of the NHS.
In addition, the LGA wants to see parliament addressing the social care funding gap for adults in the UK, as this is currently set to reach over £2 billion by 2020 unless something is done.
Commenting on the LGA's report, Karin Orman, professional practice manager at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, stated: "We wholeheartedly welcome the LGA's calls for a greater focus on fall prevention in our communities.
"We need to build on existing council schemes led by occupational therapists, such as the York Wellbeing Falls Prevention Service, which highlight the importance for adult social care and the NHS to be placed on equal footing to help alleviate pressure in the health service."
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford
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