Healthcare professionals come together for the BGS Falls Symposium

21 June 2013

We finish our coverage of falls awareness week with a blog by Bryony Elliott, Geriatric Trainee in Nottingham. She tweets at @BryonyBryboss.

On Friday the 7th June interested health care professionals from around the country assembled at Nottingham City Hospital to learn about Falls. It was the Trent BGS Falls Symposium.

What struck me first was the diverse group of professionals in the lecture theatre. Looking at the delegate list there were consultants and trainees in geriatric medicine, physios, occupational therapists, nurse specialists, and from all across the country too. A variety of people with a lot of enthusiasm, which was great to behold.

Prof Roger Francis kicked off the first session on Vitamin D and Calcium which was incredibly useful. He tried to answer some of the questions that have arisen in recent years. There was finally clarity on the difference between care home residents and community populations. The concerns over heart disease were considered and pragmatic advice was given from practising clinicians.

Professor Ann Ashburn spoke about falls in stroke patients. Usual strategies for preventing patients falling do not work in this group and more research is needed. Bhanu Ramaswamy spoke about falls in Parkinson’s disease. We discussed the issues of dual tasking and cognitive impairment and the effects these have on risk of falls. As with a lot of these things we need more research to answer the questions we have. Anyone interested?!

Dr Jane Youde then talked about the changes in the new draft NICE guidance which is due for publication soon. It was good to hear that we should be using good clinical judgment to assess our patients’ risk of falling. No risk assessment tool accurately predicts the risk of falls in hospital. And we heard from Dr Adam Darowski about how they have implemented the Fallsafe Project in Oxford. It’s great to hear how a few people can really make a difference to the culture of an organisation. Motivating stuff; everyone should do it.

We were encouraged to join ProFouND, the Prevention of Falls Network for Dissemination. They are aiming to influence policy and increase awareness of falls and prevention programmes across Europe and are a useful resource.

In the afternoon we heard from Professor Suzanne Mason who has looked at ways to improve acute services for falls patients. It was useful to learn that special training for paramedic practitioners and Emergency care practitioners in falls can reduce overall costs across the patient journey. It is not confined to one setting, so we need to work closely with our ambulance and A&E departments. Something we can all consider in our own areas. Prof Tash Masud took us through the commonly used gait and falls assessments and gave us the benefit of his experience about which tests to use and when.

And to round off the day we heard about the benefits of encouraging the population to exercise and how we can reduce not just falls but multiple other adverse health outcomes associated with the modern day sedentary lifestyle.

This was a great overview of falls in general and really helped me as a trainee to clarify some particular questions that I had. It was a well organised event and the food was fab too! I would recommend that all BGS members consider it next year.

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