The Prevention of Falls Network for Dissemination (ProFouND www.profound.eu.com) is a thematic network of 20 partners and 14 associate members across Europe. ProFouND organises a yearly Falls Festival to discuss pressing topics in relation to falls in older people. Falls and injurious falls represent a major public health challenge for European countries, and across the world, not in the least due to a high associated cost. Falls cost about 1-1.5% of national health care expenditure.
Despite an increasing amount of evidence regarding programmes that work and programmes that do not work, there is wide disparity in fall prevention across EU and the world. Some regions are running ambitious programmes, whilst others lag behind. ProFouND, EU Falls Festival Scientific Committee, European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing Action Group on Falls and E-NO FALLS working groups wrote a Silver Paper[i] to address this and suggest ways of how research can help to close the implementation gap in falls prevention.
There is sufficiently strong evidence of what works to create best practice models. The challenge remains how these models can be implemented coherently and comprehensively. The EC Blueprint on Digital Health and Care Innovation for Europe’s Ageing Society[ii] argues the need for models of self-organisation and citizen empowerment for social transformation facilitated by digital and technological innovation. However, in order to have successful self-management, more potential barriers need to be conquered. For example, the challenge with evidence based strength and balance programmes (for groups and for individuals at home) is that they need to be attractive to older people so that they not only start the programme but also adhere to them long term to be beneficial.
Figure. Self-management of falls prevention through the use of exergames
Technologies can help facilitate the implementation of such strategies, but they must be attractive to older people[iii]. Technologies need to be developed for the prediction, detection, assessment and prevention of falls, which provide alerts and feedback useful to the multiple stakeholders, including health and social care professionals, whilst prioritising older people and their families and taking account of older people’s needs and preferences for technologies[iv]. We are following the blog with great interest and see exciting research from the ISPGR research community coming our way, showing great promise in making this happen. Keep up the good work!