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Falls prevention in community care: 10 years on

Authors Burton E, Lewin G, O'Connell H, Hill KD

Received 11 October 2017

Accepted for publication 19 December 2017

Published 12 February 2018 Volume 2018:13 Pages 261—269

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S153687

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Elissa Burton,1 Gill Lewin,2 Hilary O’Connell,3 Keith D Hill1

1School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, 2School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, Curtin University, 3Independent Living Centre WA, Perth, WA, Australia

Background: A million older people living in Australia receive community care services each year due to experiencing functional or mental health difficulties. This group may be at greater risk of falling than similar-aged people not receiving services. However, there is limited falls prevention research for this population.
Purpose: The aim of this study was to identify the falls prevalence rates of older people from 10 Australian community care organizations and compare current falls prevention data to a study 10 years prior that utilized the same 10 organizations. This study also identified factors associated with falling for this population.
Patients and methods: This is a cross-sectional descriptive study, in which 5,338 questionnaires were mailed to a random sample of community care recipients aged ≥65 years.
Results: A total of 1,991 questionnaires were returned (37.3%), with 47.7% of respondents having fallen in the previous year, and 32.7% in the month prior to completing the questionnaire, similar to 10 years prior. Community care clients had a 50% higher falls rate than that reported for similar-aged people not receiving services, and this remained unchanged over the last 10 years. Eighty-six per cent of fallers had fallen once or twice, and 60% reported being injured. Thirty-six per cent of respondents reported not being able to get up independently, and only 27.4% of fallers were referred to a falls prevention program (significantly fewer than 10 years ago; 95% CI: 0.821–6.366, p=0.01). Balance issues (odds ratio [OR]: 2.06, 95% CI: 1.288–3.290, p=0.003) and perceived risk of falling in the future being “definite” (OR: 6.42, 95% CI: 1.890–21.808, p=0.003) or “unsure” (OR: 3.31, 95% CI: 1.144–9.544, p=0.027) were risk factors associated with falling. In contrast, individuals referred to a falls prevention intervention had a 47% reduced likelihood of having fallen (95% CI: 0.281–0.988, p=0.046).
Conclusion: Community care clients should have their falls risk routinely assessed, and at-risk individuals be offered falls prevention advice and referral to fall prevention programs.

Keywords: aging, community care organizations, falls risk, home care, older people

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