It is the number one reason people in Wales have called for an ambulance this year so far, with chest pain (32,000), breathing problems (25,000) and Covid-19 (23,000) calls second, third and fourth in the list respectively.
This Falls Awareness Week (20-26 September), the service has issued advice about not only how to prevent a fall but about what to do if you have fallen.
Charlotte Walker, the Trust’s Older People Improvement Lead, said: “Anyone can have a fall, but the natural ageing process means that older people are more likely to fall, especially if they have a long-term condition like heart disease, dementia or low blood pressure.
“Most falls do not result in serious injury, but there's always a risk that a fall could lead to broken bones, which can cause the person to lose confidence, become withdrawn and feel as if they have lost their independence.
“It’s important for people to take preventative steps to avoid having a fall, but it’s also important to know what to do when a fall occurs.”
Preventing a fall
How to safely get up off the floor if you’re not injured
How to stay safe while waiting for help after a fall
The Trust has introduced a number of initiatives as part of a holistic approach to help fallers, from prevention to avoiding further harm caused by prolonged periods of time spent on the floor.
It includes a paramedic-physiotherapist collaboration
to attend more complex falls, as well as partnerships with local health board
and local council colleagues to develop ‘pathways’ which improve the patient’s
care and experience.
The Trust has also worked with St John Ambulance Cymru to introduce Falls Assistants across Wales, whose role it is to help patients who have had a fall, but who are not injured or who only have a minor injury.
Community First Responders use lifting aids to help people who have fallen but are uninjured, and an education package is also being delivered to student paramedics to help them better understand why falls occur and how to seek assistance from wider health and social care teams to support people to remain at home.
In addition, colleagues in the Trust’s non-emergency patient transport service, which takes patients to and from their routine hospital appointments, have been trained to look out for potential falls hazards in a patient’s home and make referrals to the appropriate agencies, like Care and Repair.
Claire Roche, the Trust’s Executive Director of Quality and Nursing, said: “When someone has experienced a fall, it is really important that we are able to provide a suitable, timely response.
“This will ensure we can provide people with the appropriate assistance to safely get up from the floor.
“Improving our response to people who have fallen is one of our top priorities as an ambulance service, and we continue to work hard with our partners to achieve this.”
Visit the Age Cymru website for more information on Falls Awareness Week.
Watch this YouTube clip about what to do if you have fallen.