Upcoming new programme to reduce risk of falls

September 2016

ACC’s GILL HALL discusses a new programme to support initiatives aimed at reducing falls for older New Zealanders.


Falls prevention 2Baby boomers are widely credited with being the generation that changed the world, and for agencies like ours they’re continuing to shape and influence the way we deliver services.

By 2035 the number of people aged 65 years and older is expected to make up around a quarter of the population.  With falls being the most common injury for over-65s, every day we see the devastating impact a fall can have on a person’s independence and the way they live their life.

In July this year ACC, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Health and Quality Safety Commission, announced a new programme of work to support initiatives aimed at reducing falls and injuries for older New Zealanders. In addition to looking at how we manage fracture liaison services and better integrate services for older people who have had falls, we’re focused on supporting better access to exercise programmes that build strength and increase balance, as we know these types of programmes can help to reduce falls and injuries.

Although confirmation of the finer details of how this programme will roll out is some way off, after holding community meetings throughout the country in August and September, an agreed approach is starting to take shape. Communities want the opportunity to work together to design and deliver strength and balance programmes that truly reflect the needs of their own communities.

This is a radical shift from how we currently do things. Rather than fund individual classes, the thinking now is to develop a way to support community groups to run their own classes through new lead coordinator/agency roles. These lead people or groups will have oversight of a district – or potentially a region – to support community strength and balance providers with training, quality standards and maintenance, and referrals from doctors and other health providers and organisations. 

A lot of planning and thinking still needs to go into this, but what we do know is that a lot of good work is already being carried out by people who are committed and passionate about the health of older people. We see this new programme as a way to better coordinate our collective efforts, with the ultimate goal of increasing access to community strength and balance programmes in a way that can be sustained well into the future. 

Our consultation phase will remain open until the end of September and we invite you to contribute questions or comments to us at preventfalls@acc.co.nz.

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