Falls are a major cause of injury for older people.
It is estimated that at least one in three people aged 65 years or over fall one or more times a year. Older people are almost 12 times more likely to have a fall than a motor vehicle or pedestrian accident.
Most falls happen in and around the home, but falls can also happen in residential aged care homes and hospitals.
You can prevent or lower your risk of falls by following some simple safety measures and by managing your health.
Various services are available to help you prevent falls, or to provide help if you have a fall.
Falls can be prevented. Some risk factors for falls are easy to manage and, when falls occur, the severity of injuries can be reduced. Taking safety measures around your home, or in hospital, and looking after your health and physical wellbeing can make a big difference.
The BHC fact sheet Falls awareness – preventing falls at home provides more information about falls prevention.
If you feel unsteady or have a fall, even one that does not cause an injury, make an appointment to discuss it with your doctor.
Services to help you minimise the risk of falling
There are various services that can help people lower the risk of falls and provide assistance, should a fall happen.
Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP)
The CHSP (formerly known as the Commonwealth Home and Community Care Program, or HACC) is Victoria’s main program for providing in-home help to frail older people, younger people with disabilities and carers.
The program provides a wide range of services including specific help to minimise your risk of falling, such as help with home maintenance (general repairs and house and yard upkeep to reduce trip hazards) and home modification (such as installing safety aids such as alarms, ramps and support rails).
To be eligible for CHSP, you must be aged 65 years or over (50 years or over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) or have a disability
Before you can receive CHSP home support services, you will have a basic assessment to work out what sort of help and how much you need, and what it might cost. What you pay depends on your income and the type and number of services you want.
For information on the CHSP or agencies in your area, contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 (free call) or your local council.
Falls prevention in residential aged care homes
More than half of all people living in residential aged care have at least one fall each year. Injuries from falls are common, with up to a half of these falls causing serious injuries such as fractures.
However, falls can be reduced for people living in aged care homes by identifying your individual risk factors and developing a care plan to address the risk factors.
Find out what actions or falls prevention programs the staff and management at your residential aged care home have put in place to reduce falls, and what this involves. Ask them to develop a care plan for you to help reduce your risk of falling.
Falls prevention in hospital
During a hospital stay, you may be more unsteady on your feet because of your illness or surgery, or because you are unfamiliar with your hospital environment or taking new medication.
Injuries from falls can result in a longer hospital stay. The BHC page Preventing falls in hospital provides further information about how to reduce the risk of having a fall while you are in hospital.
Services to help you if you have a fall
If you have had a fall and you are able to reach a telephone, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.
Personal alert systems
You may want to consider installing a personal alert system in your home for prompt assistance if you fall. Personal alert systems notify emergency services and caregivers of an accident, such as a fall.
Personal alert systems or services can provide you with confidence to live in your own home, and offer you and your family greater peace of mind.
Personal Alert Victoria (PAV) is a personal monitoring service that responds to calls for assistance 24 hours a day. To be eligible for PAV you must be assessed by a designated PAV assessment organisation.
If you are not eligible for PAV, there are a lot of alternatives available for personal alert systems, refer to Alternatives to PAV .
Falls and mobility clinics
Falls and mobility clinics (or falls and balance clinics) are specialist clinics for people who are having near-falls or falls, particularly where the cause is not known.
These clinics provide detailed assessments of your balance and mobility. Assessments are carried out by a multidisciplinary team, which may include a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, rehabilitation physician or geriatrician. The aim of the assessment is to:
- work out what is causing you to fall
- refer you to medical or allied health professionals for therapy, treatment or ongoing case management
- help you establish a management plan that aims to prevent you having falls in the future
Your management plan might include:
- referrals to physiotherapists or exercise groups
- home safety information and advice
- medication management advice
You will need a referral from your doctor to attend a falls and mobility clinic.
Where to get help
- Your GP, about your fall, safe use of medications and for referral to a Falls and Mobility Clinic
- My Aged Care, call 1800 200 422
Personal Alert Victoria
- your doctor or pharmacist, about the safe use of medications
- an occupational therapist, about making your home environment safer
- a physiotherapist, about suitable exercise programs and walking aids
- an optometrist, about checking your eyesight
- a podiatrist about footcare and footwear
- a dietitian, or community nurse about eating a healthy diet
- local council, about help with personal care, home maintenance, community hazards
- community health organisations, about managing specific chronic health conditions
- Commonwealth Respite Carelink Centres Tel. 1800 052 222
- Carers Australia Tel. 1800 242 636
- Seniors Information Victoria Tel. 1300 13 50 90
- Independent Living Centre Victoria Tel. (03) 9362 6111
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Department of Health and Human Services
Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.