‘We can eliminate avoidable suffering’: Inside Westmead Hospital’s Falls awareness stall

The theme for this year’s April Falls awareness month was ‘Better Balance for Falls Prevention’, and the Westmead Hospital Falls Committee has hosted an interactive stall and quiz aimed at engaging patients, staff and visitors and raising awareness of this important issue.

The Falls Committee is designed to support comprehensive care of patients at Westmead Hospital through promotion of initiatives across the hospital to prevent falls and harm from falls as well as monitor and review falls that occur. 

Each day over 100 people aged over 65 years are admitted to NSW hospitals after a fall. Falls account for the highest health system costs for injury and are more than double that of road trauma.

By preventing falls, we can eliminate avoidable suffering, negative health outcomes, and avoid a spiralling of health costs. 

Bronte Scott

This event was an opportunity for staff from nursing, occupational therapy, quality and safety and physical therapy to share their expertise and information in preventing falls in the hospital and community.

Westmead Hospital Falls Committee Chair Bronte Scott spoke to The Pulse about the event, saying the take home message was falls are preventable and not a normal part of ageing.

We wanted to engage patients and visitors to consider their own risk of falling and that of their loved ones. We also wanted to equip staff with ideas and information to consider how they can help reduce falls in the hospital

Bronte Scott

The theme was bought to life with a balance check which was available at the stall, allowing visitors to check their balance and enter a $50 gift card draw when participating.

A popular stop at the annual stall is the Falls Quiz, which this year saw an outstanding average score of 8/10, showcasing great participant engagement.  

One particularly inspiring participant at the stall was consumer Alan Flynn, 83, who shared his own experiences ranging from climbing Machu Pichu to playing in the Golden Oldies Rugby Festivals.

For Alan, the stall was a great opportunity to discuss appropriate falls prevention techniques, with Alan even remarking that ‘using his umbrella as a walking stick is probably not the best idea’.

Falls are preventable and the team at the stall hopes that their efforts in raising awareness for this cause will have an impact on the western Sydney community.

Each person can reduce their own risk or help someone else reduce theirs, whether that is a patient or someone you know. Balance exercises and reviewing any medications to reduce risk are a great place to start!

Bronte Scott

For tips and exercise programs see the NSW Health – Active and Healthy website.