OAPs helped to stay on their feet by new service

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A NEW home rehabilitation service for elderly people in Sheffield has led to a dramatic reduction in the number of people returning to hospital after a fall.

The city’s ‘therapy falls prevention service’ has seen repeat visits to A&E within six months of a fall drop by 38 per cent and readmissions for overnight stays down 74 per cent.

The service, set up by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Sheffield Health and Social Care, gives elderly people a tailored package of intervention and support in their own home.

Help includes physiotherapy, balance and strengthening exercises and specialist equipment and walking aids.

Gwen Sallabank, aged 86, who lives in Gleadless with her husband Seth, had a bad fall five months ago - the latest of a series of painful falls which knocked her confidence and meant she was afraid to leave her home alone.

Since then, she has received regular visits from specialist physiotherapy assistant, Nicola Booth - who designed an exercise plan to suit her needs.

Gwen has not fallen since and now even has the confidence to go swimming on her own.

She said: “Nicola been really helpful and I do the exercises three times a week on my own.

“I can get out more now and get down my garden.

“Little thing make a difference - when me and my husband Seth walk together we hold hands for extra balance - it feels like we are courting again!”

Ms Booth said: “Over time Gwen’s balance has improved and she has now progressed on to harder exercises with ankle weights and has what we call high level balance.”

The new scheme is part of a broad range of services Sheffield’s hospitals are introducing in a bid to modernise care for the city’s growing elderly population.

The biggest challenge is the increasing number of patients with dementia.

At any one time, up to 25 per cent of patients in the city’s five adult hospitals have dementia - and on some wards such as the city’s stroke department, the number grows to 65 per cent.

Doctors often only notice people are suffering from the condition after they have been admitted to hospital for some other reason - such as a fall or a heart attack.

Now a new rehabilitation service is being provided at the Northern General Hospital for older patients suffering from dementia who have had surgery for a fractured hip.

Dianne Fawbert, matron at the hospital, said: “We have created a more homely environment for our patients.

“It is still early days, but we have already received excellent feedback from relatives and patients themselves.”