There are a number of simple things older people can do to prevent falling. Here at Age UK Oldham we offer strength and balance exercises sessions and advice at different venues throughout the borough.

The scheme is targeted towards older people who have experienced falls or are considered to be at high-risk of falling. The scheme also benefits older people recovering from minor falls and strokes.

The programme aims to prevent falls by improving the gait, balance, coordination, muscular strength, flexibility and confidence.

Referrals are made, via GPs, to Physiotherapists who complete a multifactorial assessment with all clients, start them on 'OTAGO' exercises at home and then refer those needing more assistance to our weekly Falls Exercise Prevention Classes.

Each client is offered a weekly one hour supervised exercise session for a period of up to nine months. The progress of each individual is monitored against the initial tests completed by the Physiotherapists.

Please note: Referrals for this service are only accepted from GPs and health professionals.

What happens at our sessions?

Our sessions are delivered by fitness instructors who have completed an intensive specialised 60 hour course on falls prevention for older people.

This training was pioneered by Leicester College and developed by the Exercise, Physiology and Gerontology Schools from Salford University specifically for Age UK Oldham and Oldham Community Leisure.

The exercise classes take place at Oldham Sports Centre and at sheltered accommodation lounge at Elm Leigh, Royton, on a twice-weekly basis. Groups are restricted to ten per session to facilitate more one to one attention and guidance.

Instructors use a variety of strength, balance, co-ordination, flexibility and chair exercises tailored to the individual's abilities. There is an emphasis on the education and empowerment of all participants.

Next steps

Provided by Age UK Oldham and Oldham Community Leisure in partnership, Next Steps is an intermediate programme of exercises for older people following on from an initial Falls and Injury Prevention Exercise Scheme. 

The aims and objectives of this scheme are linked to falls prevention, the promotion of independent living and a healthy and active lifestyle.

The scheme provides:

  • 4 classes weekly 
  • 30 places weekly

The scheme addresses the objectives of the National Service Framework for Older People, which identifies the following points:

  • 30% of people over the age of 65 and nearly 50% of over 80s fall each year
  • Falls precipitate admission to long-term care.  After a fracture, 50% of older people can no longer live independently
  • Hip fractures cost the NHS £1.7 billion per year in England alone and result in over 14,000 deaths
  • Programmes which provide training in balance help older people reduce their risk of falling

The effects of a fall on an older person can be devastating. Falls are a major cause of disability and the leading cause of mortality due to injury in older people aged over 75 in the UK. 

However, the effects are not only physical, a fall can have a serious psychological effect on older people, robbing them of their independence and leading to increased isolation.

Several major studies support the idea that progressive loss of function and general decline are not simply a consequence of ageing, and that regular exercise plays a major part in reversing and preventing physical deterioration. 

Research into ageing and exercise has shown that exercise can increase the stamina of an older person and increase their capacity for independent living by 10-20 years (Aoyagi and Shephard).

Comments from participants

'They are helping to keep me more relaxed, and I'm more steady on my feet. I don't seem to trip over my own feet as often as I did. I have more confidence to walk.'

'I feel I'm getting benefit from attending the class by the strengthening of muscles.'

'I have enjoyed the classes very much. Everyone is very friendly. Mentally I feel better. Meeting other people seems to help.'

'I have enjoyed going out and taking part. It has given me more confidence.'

'The class has helped me to have more confidence and also enjoy the friendship of new people. I have noticed an improvement in my arthritis, balance, and general confidence.'

Contact

For more information about the scheme, please contact:

Julie McBride - Health & Wellbeing Coordinator

Phone: 0161 770 4478  or  0161 633 0213

Email: julie.mcbride@ageukoldham.org.uk

Further information