Suffolk’s largest fitness provider Abbeycroft Leisure, working in partnership with West Suffolk CCG and West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has developed a falls prevention programme.
The aim is to provide easily accessible rehabilitation and importantly preventative training for clients in a leisure rather than traditional healthcare environment.
Initially, participants join a 12-week programme, which involves a group ‘Strength and Balance Class’ once a week. Typically, people attending may have fallen already or for different reasons are worried about their balance. Each class consists of 60 minutes of specific movements and exercises that safely challenge balance and muscle strength, followed by 30 minutes tea, coffee, and a chance to chat with fellow class members.
Making time for the social element of the programme is particularly important, and is a great opportunity to develop mutually supportive friendships, which often lead to motivate ongoing participation in other centre activities beyond the programme.
Currently the Falls Prevention programme is available at Abbeycroft’s Newmarket and Haverhill Leisure centres, however, it will soon be available at their Brandon and Bury St Edmunds sites also.
The impact on the NHS of older people falling is staggering, with the total annual cost of fragility fractures estimated at £4.4 billion which includes £1.1 billion for social care; hip fractures account for around £2 billion of this*.
About 30% of people aged over 65 years have a fall each year, increasing to 50% in people aged 80 or over. About one third of people who suffer a hip fracture resulting from a fall die within a year, approximately 20% enter a care home, and half never return to their previous level of independence.
Matt Hickey, Health, Fitness and Wellbeing manager for Abbeycroft Leisure said:
“The programme has really gathered momentum since we launched it earlier this year in Newmarket, with more than 35 clients successfully going through the 12-week programme and continuing to stay active within the facilities, which will reduce the likelihood of them falling in the future. So naturally we’re delighted that the response in Haverhill has been so positive. As a not-for-profit social enterprise, we’re committed to providing as many opportunities as possible for local people to lead healthier, active lives, and this type of preventative programme is a shining example of how working in partnership with our healthcare providers can be so effective.”
Chris Barlow, Clinical Project Manager for West Suffolk CCG said:”Our patients have really seen the benefits of Abbeycroft leisure and West Suffolk NHS Foundation trust’s community therapy teams coming together to deliver this programme. By working collaboratively, and thinking differently around how falls prevention programmes are designed and delivered, we’re able to offer an effective and motivating class. Participants have said they particularly enjoy the social aspect of the groups, have found increased confidence with their mobility, and have adopted physical exercise as a positive weekly routine that has great long term health and wellbeing benefits.”
**Access to this service is currently by referral by your clinician