In 2021 in New South Wales (NSW) there were 41,619 people over 65 who were hospitalised due to a fall at home or in the community. This number increased by 60% in a decade from 25,982 in 2010 and the incidence of falls is set to increase further as the population ages. In 2021 the cost to the NSW health system from falls by older people in the community was around $752 million. These costs are projected to grow to $1.09 billion by 2041 – the result of around 60,300 hospitalised falls projected for that year.
There is robust evidence that falls can be prevented. Fall prevention is a complex area as there are multiple risk factors that may contribute as to why a person may fall. A systems thinking approach acknowledges the complexity of fall prevention, seeks to understand the interactions between components, and identifies what interventions work best.
In April 2023, the Clinical Excellence Commission hosted a roundtable workshop that brought together key representatives from across NSW Health, fall researchers and consumers. The event reviewed the problem of falls in NSW, overviewed evidence-based solutions and explored options for progress in NSW. The workshop and subsequent discussions generated key recommendations for action, including the need for a comprehensive approach to fall prevention in NSW. Recommendations focus on the need for co-ordinated action on fall prevention if we are to reduce the strain on human health and health services from falls.
The recommendations include action on:
- The individual level – activities on the front line with individuals, local clinical teams, and community services.
- The organisational level –coordinated efforts across organisations and facilities to create supportive environments and ensure effective fall prevention practices.
- The policy level – system changes to support fall prevention efforts.
This report has three distinct sections and offers insights and solutions to reduce falls in the community.
- Part 1 Provides data on the growing problem of falls in NSW, describes the impact on individuals and their loved ones, describes the complexity of falls, and overviews evidence-based interventions
- Part 2 Summarises the insights on falls and actions for fall prevention arising from the April 2023 Roundtable hosted by the Clinical Excellence Commission
- Part 3 Gives examples of local solutions already being undertaken around NSW.