[A] partnership between a leisure centre and the NHS hopes to give older people renewed confidence and reduce the risk of falls.
The new fall prevention service group, called Forever Fit is currently being piloted in Penrith with support from the Specialist Physiotherapist team at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and staff from GLL at Penrith Leisure Centre. The Forever Fit group works with older people in the community to provide expert advice and practical skills that will improve their strength and balance to help reduce the risk of falls.
Alan Ormrod, a member of the Forever Fit Group said: “I had a fall about two months ago and was referred to Forever Fit by my GP. After falling my balance wasn’t good but coming along to the group each week and learning the different exercises has really helped me. I have noticed a great improvement in only a few weeks especially with strengthening my legs and improving my balance.”
Catherine Engelbrecht Specialist Physiotherapist at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, adds: “We are delighted with the launch of the Forever Fit group and it’s great to work in partnership with staff from GLL at Penrith Leisure Centre. Forever Fit offers older people in the community the opportunity to engage in activities that promotes being active and provides skills that group members can use at home.”
“Falls should not be seen as a normal part of aging and are often largely preventable. By making a few adjustments at home and improving people’s strength, balance and confidence we can really reduce their risk of falling. Working together with different organisations means that we are able to identify those who are most at risk and put appropriate support in place.”
Lynn Almond, Cumbria Health Lead at GLL which runs the leisure centre, added: “This new service fits perfectly within our existing programmes aimed at older people and those with long term health problems. Forever Fit encourages attendees to adopt an active lifestyle and we can support them to continue this through the classes we already run. It’s great to be part of this new service which is already being well received by attendees.”
Pam Scarth, another member of the Forever Fit Group said: “I’ve had a really positive experience coming along to Forever Fit, the group is a nice size and we can talk to the staff about any problems or questions we have, they’re all very nice and helpful. I came along to the group to improve my balance and after only three weeks I feel more confident and think my balance is a lot better.”
Falls and fractures are a common and a serious health issue faced by older people in the UK and can have a big impact on people’s lifestyle and independence. Around a third of people over 65 fall each year and 5% of those end up in hospital. This is estimated to cost the NHS more than £2.3bn a year and can cause pain, loss of confidence and independence and even mortality.
Those at risk of falls in the Penrith area can be referred to the 12 week program through their GP.