St John connecting patients with falls prevention services across New Zealand

Elliot Steel |

No matter where they live, elderly patients who have fallen or are at risk of falling can now be referred to local falls prevention services by ambulance staff, helping them avoid further falls in the future.

Falls are the single most common cause of injury amongst elderly patients, with St John responding to 34,000 fall incidents every year.

St John National Patient Pathways Manager Kris Gagliardi says ambulance officers are the eyes and ears of the health service, and are in the unique position of interacting with people in their homes where they can identify potential hazards and dangers.

“We wanted to give our people the ability to take action, and by adding some innovations to our electronic patient report form (ePRF) system, our ambulance officers are now able to refer older patients to falls prevention services as part of a ‘Falls Prevention Pathway’ throughout New Zealand.

“With the national rollout, we are now making more than 400 patient referrals every month, helping to prevent those patients from suffering future falls, while easing pressure on valuable ambulance and hospital resources,” Mr Gagliardi says.

Mr Gagliardi says the ‘Falls Prevention Pathway’ enables St John to play its part in improving the patient journey for older New Zealanders.

“With more people engaging in falls prevention services such as community strength and balance programmes, we are reducing the number of patients requiring treatment for serious injury resulting from falls, reducing the number of older people requiring ambulance assistance, and helping to support older New Zealanders to live independently in the community for longer.

ACC’s PFalls ACCortfolio Manager for Falls Prevention, Marama Tauroa, says ACC is proud to partner with St John to help prevent falls for older people.

“It’s great to see St John using innovation and technology to help identify and refer our older people to services that can help prevent a fall. 

“We all know a fall can happen to anyone and no-one is bullet proof. Falls prevention is part of the national Live Stronger for Longer movement www.livestronger.org.nz designed for over 65s. The movement provides common-sense, practical advice and resources on how to reduce falls including things such as improving strength and balance, bone health and home safety.

“It’s fantastic to be working side by side with St John to improve outcomes for older people,” Ms Tauroa says.

Mr Gagliardi says that in addition to the falls prevention pathway, St John refers patients to a number of other services supported by DHBs, including referrals for smoking cessation, social support, ‘Healthy Homes’ grants, and GP enrolment.

“By referring patients to the right services at an early stage, patient pathways are reducing preventable hospital admissions, and delivering improved health and social outcomes for all New Zealanders,” Mr Gagliardi says.

To find out more about the health services available in your area, contact your local GP.

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