The objectives were simple;
- Use this opportunity to understand the challenges with falls and falls prevention in the senior community from the people who are involved on a daily basis
- Start a discussion on the type of solutions required to bring practical benefits for seniors and health & social care professionals
- Workshops on different falls related topics where both health & social care staff and solution providers could contribute and listen
- An opportunity for each solution provider to pitch their offering to an interested audience
The impact of falls in the community
- 390,000 bed days taken up with falls related injuries
- £471m in current related healthcare costs each year
- A forecast of related yearly healthcare costs increasing to over £660m
Numbers certainly help in prioritising responses and hence the importance of prevention.
The importance of a multidisciplinary approach to falls prevention
The work with falls – be it assessment, follow-up care after a fall or prevention plans requires contributions from all these disciplines. Appropriate solutions need to support collaboration and sharing of information to enhance the effectiveness of these teams.
The importance of pathways such as Up and About cannot be emphasised enough. Care pathways provide the processes and requirements for solution providers to work with healthcare teams on developing appropriate solutions that provide added value.
To state the obvious, the focus needs to be on the resolution of falls related problems/challenges and the technology is regarded as an enabler (a means to an important end). In summary, an example of a genuine people/patient centered approach.
The crucial role of innovation
- Recognising problems and not accepting the status quo
- Having new ideas to pitch to start-ups to consider
- Receptive to new ways and solutions to resolve problems
- Being available to pilot new solutions in a healthcare setting
- Being available to provide practical end-user feedback
The focus on prevention measures
In addition to ‘early & often’, team based approaches involving both healthcare and non-healthcare staff were also widely discussed. For example the use of ‘interventions’ was another preventive measure, where the members of the team on the ward, residential home or community programme; would ‘pop-in’ to see how the older person is doing.
If they see the person attempting a risky activity (e.g. reaching for the remote) or a possible accident waiting to happen (e.g. slippy floor due to spilled water), they would help or call a professional depending on the circumstance.
If the team has access to relevant data on the number and type of interventions, it demonstrates the value of this activity as well as enabling the team to plan more personalised plans for residents or patients according to the intervention related information.
Process is important but there be other obstacles
However I think these problems are not technology based, but more to do with access problems related to data protection regulations or to organisation bureaucracy. Workarounds are in play such as
- A (paper based) request process for social care to make requests from healthcare and vice versa
- One nominated pc would be setup to facilitate access in each office
The real solution here, is to map out the right process for caring for the senior community and then develop the technology to add value and improve the delivery of care.