The launch of our Falls Response Unit in Lincolnshire will provide a vital service for many older residents who might find themselves stranded and waiting for help.
In a large rural county such as ours, the falls teams work together to reach people who have had a fall, without clogging up emergency services and diverting ambulances from getting to more critical incidents where patients might need life-saving support.
It builds on our successful pilot over the past few years. In December 2018, we started the pilot to respond to long delays experienced by residents who take a fall, and the consequent need for other services and possible hospital treatment.
Funded through a grant agreement between the county council and East Midlands Ambulance Service, the Falls Response Service was subcontracted to Lincolnshire Integrated Volunteer Emergency Services (LIVES).
It’s proved to be a game changer for many people who would otherwise be left stranded waiting for help to arrive. It’s already shown to have a significant impact on reducing hospital admissions, with just less than half of patients avoiding a trip to the hospital as a result of being assessed and treated by the LIVES Falls team.
To give you an idea, that’s more than 500 patients between October 2020 and March 2021 supported on the scene, allowing them to stay at home safely.
There’s an average 25-minute response time for people who have fallen and called for help, and teams attended an average of 200 patients each month.
Of those who had fallen at home, 81 per cent were aged 65 or over and 40 per cent were aged 85 or over.
So, based on this success, we have moved to consolidate the longer-term future of the service with Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group and LIVES colleagues.
Together with our health colleagues, we’ve committed to put £273,000 a year into the new Falls Response Unit, up to March 2024.
I’m sure the benefits will be there for all to see. It will provide three falls teams across the county with specially equipped vehicles and equipment to be able to perform diagnostics and lift patients from the floor, with emergency treatment if necessary.
It provides patients with early intervention and support to key services and comprehensive care packages to prevent further falls – including support from our wellbeing service, fire and rescue, and safeguarding, and access to community beds.
In addition, it integrates the community emergency medicine service alongside the ambulance 999 emergency centre to get support out even quicker.
The service is open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, and estimates suggest it will visit up to 3,000 patients per year, with an expected reduction of 1,500 ambulance attendances.
The ongoing reduction in recurrent falls will ease the pressure on frontline health and social care services in the longer term.
The Falls Response Service remains a prime example of innovation and partnership in Lincolnshire through joint working across the health and care system, together with voluntary and community sector services.
This type of forward thinking is vital to rural counties such as Lincolnshire and I’m following up with government to highlight how we are making a difference for our older residents.