The recommendation from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), states that GPs and other health professionals should routinely ask elderly patients about falls.

The guidance states that GPs should ask elderly patients (aged 65 and over) about falls during routine appointments, when they attend hospital appointments and during home visits by other healthcare professionals.

Research suggests that approximately 30% of people aged 65 and over will fall at least once a year. While the update has been welcomed, the Royal College of General Practitioners notes that its implementation may be hampered by the standard 10-minute GP consultation. These short appointments have been described as “increasingly inadequate”, particularly for older patients living with multiple, long-term conditions.

The update to the quality standard states professionals should be asking whether they have had falls in the last year or consider themselves to be at risk of falling – for example, if they ever lose their balance or feel unsteady on their feet.

If the person is then deemed to be at risk, healthcare professionals should refer the older person to the appropriate services such as falls prevention teams and offer guidance.

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