Best Foot Forward

Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust and Liverpool City Council Healthy Homes team will be supporting a range of events as part of Age UK’s Falls Awareness Week 2013. Falls Awareness week takes place 17th June – 21st June.

The aim is get people to put their ‘best foot forward’ by keeping their feet healthy to prevent falls in later life. As well as keeping feet in good shape, the events will show that there are a whole range of lifestyle adjustments that can be made to reduce the risk of a fall.

Falls are a major public health issue and through Falls Awareness Week 2013 aims to highlight how important it is for everyone to keep fit and healthy in order to maintain mobility and independence throughout life. Foot conditions can result in foot pain, which in turn can cause problems with balance, walking and sensation in the feet – all of which can lead to falls. With around 30% of over-65s and 50% of those aged over 80 falling every year, Age UK is calling on older people to attend local activities during Falls Awareness Week to learn how to prevent falls and keep feet healthy all year round.

A booklet produced by Healthy Homes along with other health partners called ‘Step up to Safety’ which contains advice about preventing fall in the homes and contact details of organisations which can help deal with issues relating to falls has been produced and will be mailed to everyone in the city aged over 65.

Helen Lockett, Director of Operations and Executive Nurse at Liverpool Community Health said “These local events held in support of Falls Awareness Week are important to help everyone understand how to reduce the risk of falling and how to maintain mobility and independence as we grow older.”

Councillor Roz Gladden, City Council Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health, said: “This is a very important public health issue. Falls are a major cause of injury and death in older people and this week will highlight what can be done to prevent people suffering in this way. As well as providing information and advice we are also helping people at our Venmore hub who work with people who have had falls, giving them back their confidence and helping them get back home.”

During the week there will be a number of events at which there will be trained staff from LCH Community Falls Team and the City Council’s Healthy Homes team on hand to answer any questions and provide health information and advice to the public on falls prevention.

The events will take place at a range of locations and times, including:

Monday 17th June 9am-5pm at Clayton Square, Liverpool city centre. Launch of campaign with a roadshow with representatives of all partners involved in the campaign.

Tuesday 18th June 9am – 12pm Roadshow at League of Well Doers car park, Limekiln Lane, L5.

Wednesday 19th June 9.30am – 2.00pm Information stand in Royal Liverpool University Hospital Foyer, L7.

Wednesday 19th June 1.00am – 4.00pm Roadshow in Fountains Road, Pincrodft Way, L4.

Friday 21st June 12pm – 4.00pm Roadshow at Tesco’s,County Road, L4.

Monday 17th – Friday 21st June, Wards 9 and 11 at Liverpool Community Health’s Intermediate Care base at Broadgreen Hospital will be swapping patients slippers for a brand new pair. Keeping feet healthy is fundamental to maintaining mobility and independence and wearing the wrong type of slippers is one of the most common causes of falls.

RoSPA, Liverpool Community Health and the Healthy Homes team have identified four styles of slipper which are the most appropriate for home use to avoid slipping. The pilot, funded by RoSPA will be rolled out beyond Falls Awareness week if proven a success. Further information on good footwear can be found in the Step up to Safety booklet.

Local healthcare professionals also want people to think about keeping their bones healthy. GP Denis O’Brien is one of Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group’s leads for planned care, and also works at the Royal Liverpool Hospital as a GP with an interest in Musculoskeletal Medicine. He said: “Even relatively minor falls can have potentially serious health consequences, especially as we get older. Falls Week is a good opportunity to think about the simple steps you can take to protect yourself.

Denis O’Brien continues “Much of the UK population is Vitamin D deficient, especially older people who might be housebound and therefore get little exposure to sunlight, which is the source of most of our Vitamin D. This vitamin is essential for maintaining bone and muscle health, so individuals who don’t have enough are not only more vulnerable to developing osteoporosis – which could make the consequences of a fall much more damaging – but also seem to be at greater risk of falling in the first place.”

During Falls Awareness Week Age UK will be supporting events across the country highlighting how important it is to look after your feet, as well as the benefits of staying active in later life. To download Age UK’s free ‘Staying Steady’ and ‘Healthy Living’ guides, and to find out more information about Age UK’s Falls Awareness Week 2013 and what’s happening in your local area, visit www.ageuk.org.uk/falls or call 0800 169 6565.