Around one in three adults over the age of 65 will have at least one fall in a year and this number rises to 50% after the age of 80*
Falls Awareness Week aims to shed light on how to prevent falls in the home by minimising risks and taking regular exercise to strengthen bones and muscles.
But for unavoidable falls, our Falls Response Service are there to help.
The team is made up of specialist falls assistants who work alongside the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust delivering care in Wales.
Amy Hewett, one of our volunteers from Cardiff, experienced herself the difference the service is making when the team were called to help her mother-in-law, Jean (83), after a fall in her garden.
“It was in the heatwave in July, and I was in work at the time. I had a phone call from my sister-in-law saying that Jean had fallen.
I was really worried because she had had a nasty fall in early 2020 and spent twelve days in hospital so I was really hoping she wasn’t hurt too much or in too much pain.”
Jean had fallen down steps while putting out the washing and had broken her shoulder. She was unable to move due to the pain.
“As a first aider, I knew there were some initial checks I could do to make sure she was okay, I also protected her from the sun as best I could, but it was clear she was starting to go into shock.
We’d called 999 and we were expecting an ambulance. We knew it might be a while as the ambulance service had been facing a lot of pressure due to the pandemic.”
That’s when the falls response team from St John Ambulance Cymru arrived.
“We were so happy and relieved to see them.
They explained everything to us and were amazing at reassuring my sister-in-law who was really worried about Jean after her fall last year.”
The team assessed Jean’s injuries and gave her pain relief for her shoulder before helping her back to her feet with the use of a Mangar Camel lifting cushion.
After confirming with their counterparts at the Welsh Ambulance Service, Amy who volunteers in Roath, was cleared by the team to take Jean to the hospital instead of calling out an emergency ambulance, saving it instead for someone in critical need.
“Our Falls Response Service plays a pivotal role in helping people in the home when they need it most.
Often those we’re called to are vulnerable or elderly and our service helps us keep people near their loved ones or referred to specialist care if needed.
Our teams work tirelessly to ensure we do all we can to help people in their home to live as independently and safely as possible.
The service has proven successful in communities across Wales and has not only helped thousands of people to date but has also saved emergency ambulance call outs, freeing them to attend more life-threatening calls.”
St John Ambulance Cymru, Head of Ambulance Service, James Shaughnessy
Our Falls Response Service has helped over 8,000 people who have fallen at home get back to their feet since it began as a pilot in 2018.
The service already operates in, Llanelli, Newport, Cardiff, Treharris, Bridgend, Swansea, Wrexham and Rhayader has proven to be vital for people in need, like Jean.
More information about our Falls Response Service is available here.
* Source NHS.UK - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/falls/