VICTORIA – University of Victoria researchers are developing a national training program to prevent seniors from falling and reduce the costs of treating their injuries.
In B.C. alone, more than $180 million a year is spent on elderly patients with hip fractures or other traumas that could have been avoided. Nationally, the average yearly cost is $2.8 billion.
“Our population is aging. If we don’t pay attention now, all our hospitals’ beds could be taken up by people recovering from falls,” said Dr. Vicky Scott, with the B.C. Ministry of Health and UVic Centre on Aging.
“This work will prevent injuries and their associated medical costs, and it will also help save lives. Statistics tell us 20 per cent of seniors die within just 12 months of sustaining a hip fracture.”
The three-year project – being completed in partnership with the B.C. Injury Research and Prevention Unit – will compile the results of international fall studies and translate them into a prevention program, or curriculum, for health care professionals.
Obvious pointers are ensuring seniors live in well lit homes or care facilities that have clear walkways. The new program will also provide a comprehensive list of underlying factors – ones that are typically overlooked.
They include assessing medications, eyesight and balance, prescribing proper exercise, and coaching people on how to properly use mobility aids.
When completed, the two-day training course will be tested in Vancouver and Halifax, then revised based on participant feedback. A final run-through will be held in Ottawa.
The resulting program will be co-ordinated through the B.C. Injury Research and Prevention Unit and delivered by trained facilitators across the country.
Funding for the $300,000 project is provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Population Health Fund.