Pictured: STEADY On! champions Yvonne Skellern-Foster, Diane Lloyd and Cathy Bolton 

‘’Falls are an inevitable part of getting older’’, is a comment I hear a lot. But that is not correct.

Falls and fall-related injuries are however, a common and serious problem for older people. Around 30 per cent of adults over 65 and living at home will experience at least one fall a year. This rises to 50 per cent of adults over 80 who are either at home or in residential care.

The NHS prioritises services when they’re needed. In terms of falls, that can mean hospital clinics after the damage has been done. But, with the support of Lancashire County Council and our Clinical Commissiong Groups, in the last few years the STEADY On! falls prevention programme has changed the approach and reduced falls, prevented avoidable harm and saved patients the need for expensive and avoidable NHS treatment.

It’s very much a low cost, high impact service, combining a non-clinical approach with a user friendly term to promote positive action to break the falls cycle and enable the older person to take control and self-manage.

STEADY On! (Slippers, feet and Footwear, Tablets and medication, Environment and Lighting, Activity and Exercise  Do you fall and have a plan?, eYesight,vision and hearing) is ideally suited to self-care and as a first line of attack on falls and to prevent the first fall.

STEADY On! Works: a pilot took place in Hyndburn before it was rolled out across East Lancashire. The result: 30 per cent fewer community falls were recorded during the pilot than in the same period the previous year.

STEADY On! assessments are much more than advice – they provide both professionals and the older person the chance to work together on an action plan to address falls risks and the person's wider health and wellbeing.

With just one hip fracture costing the NHS and social care £25,000, STEADY On! is also good news for precious finances. Older people commonly call out an emergency ambulance following a fall – one in 12 of all emergency ambulance responses. Transfer of these patients to the emergency department is also high, accounting for at least 60,000 attendances every year.

If we want to save money in the NHS and long term in social care, it’s vital to integrate innovations like STEADY On! into mainstream services and commissioning. In fact, we already do that with education sessions for community groups, public events in supermarkets, bus stations, markets and we go where older people themselves can be found going about their day to day business.

That’s where we find ‘harder to reach’ people; those who are not being seen regularly by health and social care professionals until things go wrong and they’re in crisis.

STEADY On! is much more than preventing the physical harm caused by a fall. Falls are also a major cause of social isolation – the elderly person living alone who suffers a fall and then doesn’t go out, doesn’t eat properly, doesn’t get their medication, and all this out of sight of health and social care professionals.

The name - STEADY On! – really engages people. It’s a phrase we hear every day, it has that familiarity to it which people relate to.

And that’s the thing – older people get it, they understand what STEADY On! is all about. Many, many people recall how a fall changed the life of themselves or a family member, often forever.  Getting older is inevitable, a fall is not and STEADY On!  prevents unnecessary injury and harm in Lancashire, every day.