New pilot service aims to reduce falling at home

Published Tuesday, 14th March 2017

A new scheme to help prevent people falling in their homes is starting in York by a partnership of housing, health and safety experts.

Research commissioned by City of York Council from the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in 2015, identified that falls in the home was a cause for concern. Typically the risk of falls was increased due to missing stair rails, uneven flooring or poor internal lighting especially for children aged under five and older persons. Clifton ward was identified as one of the wards with a higher level of risk of falls than the city average

As part of its drive to offer preventative help and improve the quality of the city’s housing, the council brought together partners including the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. With its own public health, occupational therapy and building maintenance teams, it has developed a project to reduce the risk of falls for residents in their homes.

Over the 12-month pilot, free home safety checks will be offered to residents in Clifton ward, as part of the council’s YorWellbeing Services.  

An advisor with handyperson skills and an occupational therapist will request home visits and offer practical advice specific to the resident and their home. The team can make simple improvements there and then such as fitting a grab rail or fitting brighter light bulbs, or their advice could include tightening carpets or using non-slip mats under rugs to smooth out trip risks or suggesting exercises to help the resident improve their balance. They will also signpost residents to other relevant services.

To date, the findings from the BRE study have been used to revise the council’s Private Sector Housing Strategy in 2016; to attract funding from West Yorkshire Combined Authority to tackle excess cold by offering insulation grants or interest-free loans to owners or landlords; and to raise awareness of the link between quality accommodation and good health which included hosting a regional health and housing conference at the University of York.

Cllr Sam Lisle, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods, said: “Well-maintained homes are good for the owners and for those who live in them, and will help maintain York’s already strong housing sector. I hope this pilot helps improve residents awareness of what can be done to lower their risk of falling while improving their homes and quality of life.”

Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member for adult social care and health, said: “Falling makes another fall more likely. So early help and prevention such as this means people are less likely to fall in the first place and so less likely to need medical intervention and recovery support. I’m very pleased that our experts are ready to share their knowledge and skills to keep people well and independent for longer.”

Michelle Carrington, chief nurse at NHS Vale of York CCG, said: “We are putting prevention at the forefront of much of our work and falls prevention is a very important element of this. I urge anyone who has fallen at home or is worried about falling at home to take up the offer of free help and professional advice and, if necessary, free adjustments to help reduce the risk of a fall in the future.”

Stuart Simpson from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:  “We are delighted to support this initiative. Our community safety team is working in partnership on this initiative to undertake home safety visits and to fit, where required, smoke alarms to make the occupants safer.”

To request a free home visit for advice and help on preventing falls, residents of Clifton can call 01904 567456 or email reducingfalls@york.gov.uk

To find out more about the service and pick up some advice on reducing the risk of falls, please visit www.york.gov.uk/reducingfalls

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