Across the UK, falls are the most common cause of hospitalisation for people aged over 65, and of accidental death in those aged over 75. Undetected and untreated visual impairment plays a significant role in the high incidence of falls among older people. This prompted us to investigate ways in which we could reduce vision-related falls and encourage better connections between local falls services and community optometrists. 

Share options

Supporting falls teams

We are working with the Thomas Pocklington Trust to distribute the easy-to-use Eyes Right tool for checking vision within a falls service. Contact Paul.Alexander@college-optometrists.org to place your order.

We are looking at methods of reciprocal referral between falls services and optometrists and encouraging falls teams to use our member directory to find their local practice. We also have a falls directory which includes details of falls services teams. If you would like to be included in this directory, please contact Paul.Alexander@college-optometrists.org

Occupational therapists can download guidelines for the prevention and management of falls

 

Focus on falls report

Key findings:

Information gathered through interviews and an online survey suggested that around 50% of UK falls teams currently assess patients' vision as a standard part of their service, although there is variation in the frequency and method of these checks. This variation is generally due to a lack of resource and capacity within a team. Most falls teams contacted advised that they would welcome support in performing vision checks and that referral between falls teams and optometrists would help improve the patient pathway and foster greater levels of clinical continuity.

Download the full report:

 

 

Taking action

We have been working with the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) to support local optical committees (LOCs) and local eye health networks (LEHNs) in prioritising falls awareness. Activities included:

  • Briefing parliamentarians, key stakeholders and falls leads in the four nations
  • Encouraging the development of a falls and vision pathway and recommending improved falls provision in the Map of Medicine for Low Vision
  • Working with Thomas Pocklington Trust to distribute an easy-to-use tool for screening older people for poor vision to falls services teams across the UK. Contact paul.alexander@college-optometrists.org for more information and to place an order
  • Working with DOCET to incorporate findings from the report in their Ageing Eye CET materials
  • Encouraging falls team to register on the UK-wide falls directory. This will help our members make contact, provide support and refer any patients identified as needing falls teams services

Background

I believe that there is much that can be done to support falls teams to reduce the unnecessarily high number of falls that could be related to vision.  With a little effort we can make a huge difference to the safety and quality of life for our most vulnerable patients.

Paul Alexander, College Policy Manager and Falls Project Lead 

Reducing the incidence of vision related falls.

Across the UK, falls are the most common cause of hospitalisation for people aged over 65, and of accidental death in those aged over 75. Undetected and untreated visual impairment plays a significant role in the high incidence of falls among older people. This prompted us to investigate ways in which we could reduce vision-related falls and encourage better connections between local falls services and community optometrists.  

The recommendations of the resulting College report, Focus on falls, have generated wide-ranging activity to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye examinations for those most at risk, and to support the inclusion of a vision check in the services offered by all UK falls teams. 

Get involved

There are several ways in which members can get involved and help reduce the incidence of vision related falls among their most vulnerable patients:

  • Download and read the report 
  • Get in touch with your local falls team to discuss ways in which you can support them, perhaps through encouraging referral in both directions. Some services are already listed on our falls directory 
  • Download and display a Focus on falls poster to encourage elderly patients to book in for an eye examination 
  • Consider the visual risk factors for falls when assessing your patients, and keep the checkist to hand during eye examinations as a useful prompt
  • Inform patients and their families and carers of the risks of falling and how they can significantly reduce these.  This can be one-to-one or via community presentations - we have developed resources for both
  • Order your free copies of our Ageing eyes and falls patient leaflet, which provides invaluable advice for at-risk patients and those caring for them.You can also direct patients to our public health information website - lookafteryoureyes.com
  • Give us your comments, suggestions and ideas. Through your input we can refine and improve our campaigns and share best practice and successes.email paul.alexander@college-optometrists.org

All resources are available in the member resources section under member resources.

The falls presentation I made with the College’s resources had a high impact and was very well received. I was able to put a local stamp on this work and, with the College’s support, I felt well equipped to discuss this important topic with a multi-disciplinary team working to prevent falls in my area.

Claire Roberts MCOptom 

Other resources of interest

OK
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...