Aim and objective. This study has investigated older people’s experiences of a recent fall, its impact on their health, lifestyle, quality of life, care networks, prevention and their views on service use.
Background. Falls are common in older people and prevalence increases with age. Falls prevention is a major policy and service initiative.
Design. An exploratory, qualitative design involving two time points.
Method. A convenience sample of 27 older people from two primary care trusts who had a recent fall. Taped semi structured qualitative interviews were conducted and repeated at follow up to detect change over time and repeat falls. Data were collected on their experience of falls, health, activities of living, lifestyle, quality of life, use of services, prevention of falls, informal care and social networks. Content analysis of transcribed interviews identified key themes.
Results. The majority of people fell indoors (n = 23), were repeat fallers (n = 22) with more than half alone when they fell (n = 15). For five people it was their first ever fall. Participants in primary care trust 1 had a higher mean age than those in primary care trust 2 and had more injurious falls (n = 12, mean age 87 years vs. n = 15, mean age 81 years). The majority of non-injurious falls went unreported to formal services. Falls can result in a decline in health status, ability to undertake activities of living, lifestyle and quality of life.
Conclusions. Local informal care and support networks are as important as formal care for older people at risk of falls or who have fallen. Access to falls prevention programmes and services is limited for people living in more rural communities.
Relevance to practice. Falls prevention initiatives and services should work with local communities, agencies and informal carers to ensure equitable access and provision of information, resources and care to meet the needs of older people at risk or who have fallen.