News News Falls put under the spotlight at the Royal Commission by National Ageing Research Institute 17 July 2019 Dr Frances Batchelor, Director of Clinical Gerontology at the National AgeingResearch Institute, has told the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality andSafety that there is an urgent need for more high-quality research to learn what caneffectively prevent falls in residential care, especially for people living with dementia. Dr Batchelor, said that while there is strong evidence exercise that includes strengthand balance training for two hours a week over 25 weeks – for a total of 50 hours –is effective at reducing falls in the community, the same could not be said forresidential aged care. There is little evidence-backed data to support common preventive measures suchas exercises, medication reviews, bed and chair alarms or a combination inresidential aged care, and more research and clinical data is needed urgently,according to Dr Batchelor. However, she said that until findings from new research become available, the sectorneeded to be proactive and come up with a comprehensive falls risk assessmentand management plans. These include: increasing the number of staff involved indirect resident care, increasing falls prevention training for all staff including personalcare workers, improving how data is collected, particularly in real-time, andimplementing person-centred care. According to Dr Batchelor, accidental falls are the tenth leading cause of death forpeople in residential aged care and the eighth leading cause for people receivingaged care packages. On average 50% of aged care residents will have one or morefalls in any given year. This is higher in residents with dementia, with estimates of upto 90% of people with dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease falling at leastonce in a year. “We shouldn’t just say that falls are an inevitable part of ageing and that they are allgoing to happen,” she said. Dr Batchelor said that most residents are only assessed for their falls risk when theyenter residential care and then on a three-monthly basis or when a fall occurs. “But it’s not responding in a dynamic way to the changes that we might see inresidents’ functional and health status, Falls aren’t in isolation, from other issuessuch as nutrition, even oral care. They’re all interrelated and if we can support staffto offer truly person-centred assessment and care, then I think that will go a long wayto prevention of falls but also joining the dots for those other issues,” she added. Dr Batchelor has over 30 years of experience as a Clinical Physiotherapist and alsoleads a program of research in falls prevention and physical activity. She is theresearch program lead of the Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC).