ACC to invest in fall prevention


ACC is to invest $30-million-dollars in reducing falls and fractures in older people.

Last year, the cost of fall-related claims in the over 65s was around $163 million - and it's projected to balloon as the population ages.

"Falls are the most common and costly cause of injury for those aged 65 and over, " says ACC Minister Nikki Kaye.

"A fall doesn't just deliver a physical blow. It can also be emotionally devastating, robbing people of their confidence and independence."

Last year, the cost of fall-related claims in over 65s was around $163 million and it's projected to reach between $296 million and $418 million annually by 2025. 

"ACC's investment therefore makes good financial sense as our population ages," says Ms Kaye.

The number of people aged 65 years and older is expected to double to around 1.2 million by 2035, when they will make up almost one quarter of the population.

Loss of muscle strength, deteriorating eyesight, medication side effects and trip hazards in the home can all contribute to a fall.

ACC's investment will help fund a range of services, including:

- in-home and community-based strength and balance programmes

- fracture liaison services, to identify and treat those at risk of osteoporosis and further fractures

- home assessments

- medication reviews

ACC used to run a falls prevention programme nationwide, but it was canned in 2009 due to the cost.

Canterbury DHB has been funding a programme since 2012, which lead clinician, Ken Stewart, says has saved both money and lives.

"By reducing the number of presentations to emergency departments, and hospital admissions, but particularly reducing the number of hip fractures."

He says for a $2 million dollar investment over four years they've managed to save between $20 million and $30 million. 

"But more importantly than the money, that's a whole lot of older people who are now living independantly at home who would have been in hospital.  In fact, if you look at the data in some detail, there's 455 fewer hip fractures in Canterbury than we expected over the past four years."

Fall statistics

- If you're over 65, you have a 1 in 3 chance of falling.

- Between 10% and 20% of these falls result in an injury such as a hip fracture, hospitalisation or death.

- For people aged 80 and over, the risk of falling increases to 1 in 2.

- Falls cause around 40% of ACC claims for people aged between 65 and 69, and around 60% of claims for those aged over 85.

- A hip fracture for someone aged 80 or over is associated with a 33% chance of entering residential care, and a 20% chance of dying within 12 months.