Accidental falls are one of the biggest threats to the health and wellbeing of older people. Every year there are around 250,000 emergency hospital admissions in the UK related to falling, and around half of people aged 80 and above fall at least once a year.

To combat the risk, Portsdown View care home in Bedhampton is recruiting residents to a pioneering ‘fall risk reduction’ programme aimed at improving residents’ strength, confidence and independence.

This week the home is launching ‘Steady Strides’, a 12-week physical resilience course for residents. In house-personal trainers and staff will run two 40-minute training sessions a week.

Designed by leading national care group, Connaught Care, classes will involve a combination of lower body strength training to support walking and standing; balance exercises to increase confidence whilst in motion; and muscular endurance exercises to increase resilience and strength. Extensive walking practice will also play a key role.

The 3 month programme will also provide valuable data to Connaught Group on how to reduce falls and improve safety across their portfolio of luxury homes. Managers will be able to calculate the average fall rate and how this can be improved over the course of Steady Strides. Resident feedback will chart real time improvements to their mental wellbeing and confidence.

The programme has been modelled on the Otago Exercise Programme (OEP) in New Zealand, which found that strength-based training can lead to a 35-40% reduction in falls.

Stephen Orwin, Connaught Care’s Life Enrichment and Wellbeing Coordinator who is running the programme, commented:

“A bad fall can have a devastating impact on anybody’s life, and even just the fear of falling can discourage people from participating in the activities they love. Strength-based exercises are crucial for restoring a lost sense of confidence, whilst making residents genuinely stronger as well”.

The results of the pilot will inform the work of a ‘Falls Steering Group’ at Connaught, which will compile data on falls from every one of its homes. By gathering data from multiple different settings, the steering group will develop a new company-wide strategy for improving the wellbeing and safety of residents.

Dorota Ozturk, Deputy Manager at Portsdown View, says:

“This is such a critical issue but we are the first to systematise a programme, as far as we know. Astonishingly, people living in care are three times more likely to fall than people living at home, and we see every day the impact that mobility issues can have on a person’s quality of life. Helping our residents get up and moving about in a structured programme like this could be a gamechanger, and we can’t wait to see the results”. 

Steady Strides will run at Portsdown View for 12 weeks from mid-March. The class is optional but open to all residents regardless of current mobility.