Coventry University Pump-Prime Research Grant
The Innovation in Supporting Those at Risk of Falling project found that there is a lack of knowledge amongst the public and healthcare professionals regarding technology which may support those at risk of falling. As a result of the project, a range of resources were produced, aimed at health and social professionals, and the general public to raise awareness of falls prevention, detection, response and best practice. One of the resources developed was the Fallcheck app. Fallcheck is based on information from occupational therapists and falls experts in the United Kingdom. The app provides a comprehensive guide to alert to potential falls hazards that might be present in the home. Information on how to remove or reduce the risk is provided by the app.
The app works on all mobile platforms and via the web – all you need is an internet enabled device (e.g. computer, smartphone or tablet).
A Coventry University usability study (not yet published) with 27 falls/telecare experts rated the app as being appropriate for use in practice. However, it has not yet been trialled with end users and their satisfaction with the app has not been evaluated. The Coventry University Pump-Prime grant is being used to explore the usability of the app to understand how it is utilised by people worried about falling to modify risks in the home environment and reduce the risk of falls.
Globally falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide. Each year an estimated 424,000 individuals die from falls globally. Adults over 65 suffer the greatest number of fatal falls and 37.3 million falls are severe enough to require medical attention each year (WHO, 2012).
In the UK, supporting those people who fall or are at risk of falling is a challenge for health and social care services. UK predictions indicate that by 2036 there could be 140,000 admissions per year as a result of hip fractures resulting from falls (AgeUK and National Osteoporosis Society, 2012, p.6). Falls are estimated to cost the NHS £2.3 billion a year (NICE 2013, p5). There are also additional costs for social care and hidden impacts on the individual and their family in terms of health, psychological, and social well-being. Prevention strategies should emphasise education, training, creating safer environments, prioritising fall-related research and establishing effective policies to reduce risk (WHO, 2012).
In terms of creating safer environments, the gap in access to home hazard assessment and interventions has been highlighted, with only 65% of patients with hip fracture and only 19% of patients with non-hip fracture receiving home hazard assessment by an occupational therapist, with less than half taking place in the service user’s home (Royal College of Physicians, 2010, p7). The scale and significance of fall-related health and social care issues is exacerbated by pressure on available resources meaning that new approaches to delivering an effective multifactorial intervention must be explored. The Fallcheck app is an innovative approach to home hazard modification and has the potential to add a quality improvement to the management of falls as it supports self-management, is tailored to individual users, and offers an intergenerational and wider public health approach to falls management.