ACC invests $30m to reduce falls and fractures for older New Zealanders

13 Jul 2016 | Reducing Harm from Falls

An investment of $30.5 million over four years by ACC, to support new and existing initiatives aimed at preventing falls and resulting injuries, has been welcomed by ACC Minister Nikki Kaye and Minister for Seniors Maggie Barry.

Both Ministers visited Auckland Hospital this morning to celebrate the investment and visit an older persons’ health ward.

“ACC’s investment will boost work being done by local health organisations and community partners to provide better services for those at risk of falls and those who’ve been injured in a fall,” says Ms Kaye.

“This is one of the most significant investments ACC has made as it continues to ramp up its injury prevention work.

“A fall doesn’t just deliver a physical blow. It can also be emotionally devastating, robbing people of their confidence and independence.

“Many of us will know someone who’s had a fall and witnessed the devastating impact it’s had on them. This is about providing more support for mums, dads, grandmas and grandads, to help them have the best quality of life.”

The number of people aged 65 years and older is expected to double to around 1.2 million by 2035, when they will make up almost one quarter of the population.

“Falls are the most common and costly cause of injury for those aged 65 and over.

Nikki Kaye and Maggie Barry help elderly woman with foot weights.

“Last year, the cost of fall-related claims in this age group was around $163 million, and this is projected to reach between $296 million and $418 million annually by 2025. ACC’s investment therefore makes good financial sense as our population ages.

“There’s no single cause of falls. ACC’s investment recognises that a holistic approach is needed, tackling a range of factors that together make our older people more at risk of falling.

“Loss of muscle strength, deteriorating eyesight, the side-effects of medication and trip hazards in the home can all contribute to a fall.

“ACC’s investment will therefore help fund access to:

  • in-home and community-based strength and balance programmes
  • fracture liaison services, to identify and treat those at risk of osteoporosis and further fractures
  • assessment and management of visual acuity and environmental hazards in the home
  • medication review for people taking multiple medicines
  • Vitamin D prescribing in Aged Residential Care
  • integrated services across primary and secondary care (including supported hospital discharge) to provide seamless pathways in the falls and fracture system.

“This is a great example of ACC working collaboratively with partners, including DHBs, the Health Quality Safety Commission and the Ministry of Health, to enhance the reach and effectiveness of its injury prevention work,” says Ms Kaye.

Ms Barry says the collaborative approach to reducing falls and fall-related injuries reflects the Government’s commitment to the New Zealand Health Strategy and positive ageing, where older people live well, age well and are healthy, connected, independent and respected.

“As our population ages, we need the right services in place to support our older people, and this investment by ACC is a huge step towards this goal,” says Ms Barry.

“We all want to age positively. Earlier this year, I launched the SuperSenior Champions programme, which is about inspirational role models who embody the idea of positive ageing.

“The Government is committed to supporting older people with their aspirations and also making our towns, cities and communities better places to be old.”

Key statistics
  • If you’re over 65, you have a 1 in 3 chance of falling, and between 10% and 20% of these falls result in an injury such as a hip fracture, hospitalisation or death.
  • For people aged 80 and over, the risk of falling increases to 1 in 2.
  • Falls are the most common and costly cause of injury in older people.
  • Falls cause around 40% of ACC claims for people aged between 65 and 69, and around 60% of claims for those aged over 85.
  • Severity of fall-related injury increases with age – an 80-year-old has 15 times the risk of a hip fracture compared with a 65-year-old.
  • A hip fracture for someone aged 80 or over is associated with a 33% chance of entering residential care, and a 20% chance of dying within 12 months.
Partners ACC will be working with
  • Ministry of Health (MOH)
  • Health Quality Safety Commission (HQSC)
  • District Health Boards (DHBs)
  • Primary Health Organisations (PHOs)
  • Expert clinical partners, eg Osteoporosis New Zealand, Auckland University, Orthopaedic Association
  • Local health system and community partners, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Last updated 13/07/2016