AN INNOVATIVE clinic in Dorset is helping older people live more independently by raising awareness of falling.

Around one in three people aged over 65 fall each year, sometimes resulting in broken bones and even hospitalisation which can shatter a person’s confidence leading to a spiral of physical decline and loss of independence.

But the Bournemouth and Poole Community Therapy Team’s multi-disciplinary falls clinic at Alderney Hospital in Poole is helping many older people in the region get back on their feet – and stay there.

The service run by Dorset HealthCare is dispelling the myth falls are a ‘normal’ part of ageing. In the past year 180 people have been seen at the clinic where patients are seen by a range of experts in one visit who can assess the reasons why they are falling and provide support or treatment which will reduce their risk of future falls.

More than 80 per cent of patients have not fallen since attending the group and most patients no longer require follow-up home visits.

Occupational Therapist Cathy Worboys said: “There can be all sorts of reasons why people have falls – their home environment, sight problems, medication, injuries or illness. Staff at the clinic look at all the possible reasons, and then make a plan to help reduce the risks.”

Part of the service provided at Alderney is the Balance, Strengthening and Education (BSE) Group. This offers weekly exercise and information sessions over a period of around three months, aimed at people who have fallen, are afraid of falling again, and who have lost confidence in their mobility and balance.

Physiotherapist Laura Forsyth, who runs the group, said: “We see mainly older people, and teach them some very simple exercises which will help them get around and do daily tasks – like getting dressed or using the shower – without fear of falling."

People can be referred to the group by their GP or other healthcare professional. Ruby Griston, 89, from Poole, began attending after a number of falls at home. She said: “This group is marvellous. The staff are so patient with us and I do feel more confident on my feet now, especially walking up and down stairs. It’s also fun – you meet people and have a laugh.”

Laura added: “If you have a falls or are worried about your balance, don’t keep it a secret. Speak to your GP, community nurse or other healthcare professional – there is help available. It’s not inevitable.”