1 Apr 2016 | Reducing Harm from Falls
As a month-long focus on preventing falls begins, one Upper Hutt resident is well aware of the campaign’s slogan: falls prevention is everyone’s business.
Seventy-nine-year-old Yvonne Price broke her ankle in a fall on 23 December, after slipping on an unsecured mat at her daughter’s house. Mrs Price lives in a cottage on the property she shares with her daughter and son-in-law.
‘I was watering the plants on the deck of my daughter’s house,’ she says.
‘I ran out of water and was going back into the kitchen. I stepped on a new mat on the deck and it slid. I ended up lying on the ground with my foot at an odd angle.’
Her first problem was finding a way to call for help. Because she couldn’t stand, she had to ‘bottom shuffle’ to her daughter’s office, where she could reach the phone. She rang an ambulance and sat on the floor, waiting for it to arrive.
‘When I got to the emergency department, they tried three times to put the break together, but it didn’t work. So I had to have an operation under general anaesthetic. I ended up with three pieces of metal in my ankle. I was in hospital for nearly three weeks.’
Mrs Price says the worst part was not being able to walk for so long. ‘I had to use a walking frame to get around in hospital and for the first six weeks I was home. In fact, all I could do was hop – but I got quite good at it!’
She is still wearing a moon boot, awaiting the all-clear from specialists.
As well as losing her ability to move freely and independently, and needing to rely on friends, family and neighbours to drive her to appointments and check-ups, Mrs Price lost her family Christmas.
‘Christmas didn’t happen. Not for me. I had visitors in hospital on Christmas Day, but it wasn’t the same.’
Mrs Price says she had removed falls hazards from her house after being warned by her brother – but the errant outdoor mat belonging to someone else was her undoing.
April marks the start of the annual April Falls campaign, which is being promoted by the Commission, district health boards and others.
Simple things to keep yourself safe around the home include checking you have non-slip rugs or they are secured to the floor, keeping cords and wires away from walkways or taped down and ensuring stairs and walkways are well-lit with easy to grip handrails.
Background: Falls in people aged 50 and over
Data is from the Commission’s Atlas of Healthcare Variation – a website that uses maps, graphs, tables and words to show differences in health care in New Zealand by district health board. The falls Atlas domain was updated on 1 April 2016: www.hqsc.govt.nz/atlas/falls/.