Falls prevention in community care: 10 years on
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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.
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