Ayrshire doctor falls on her feet

A LEARNING pack to help older people avoid falls has won the Chartered Society of Physiotherapist’s (CSP) national ‘Dragons’ Den’ competition and secured the prize of £5000.

The development of the ‘Positive Steps’ pack was led by Dr Heather Hall, NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Falls Lead Practitioner and Physiotherapist, in partnership with staff from South Ayrshire Council and NHS Ayrshire & Arran Resource Centre. This initiative is an example of successful joint working on falls prevention between NHS Ayrshire & Arran and South Ayrshire Council.

Sheltered housing wardens have been using ‘Positive Steps’ with their residents to raise awareness on how to avoid falls. The resource includes a learning box with hand-held teaching aids – for example, a good shoe, laminated slides and a training script that provides positive messages about falls prevention.

Dr Hall was grilled by the CSP Dragons at the event in Liverpool at the beginning of October. Like the television show’s contestants, Heather pitched her product and explained how their investment would make a difference.

Dr Heather Hall said: “Each year a third of over 65s will suffer a fall. These can deeply affect a person’s confidence and they also have a huge impact on health services. We want to do everything we can to help older people avoid falling and ‘Positive Steps’ will help achieve this.

“We worked with our local authority colleagues, carers and older people to find out what kind of information would help them recognise the danger signs of falls and how to prevent them. The feedback we received has been very positive, with many people saying how much they enjoyed learning in an informal setting, and sharing their experiences of falls with others.

“I decided to apply for the CSP’s ‘Dragons’ Den’ as this seemed like an ideal way of securing more funding to expand ‘Positive Steps’. My goal is to see every day centre and lunch club in Ayrshire with a copy of ‘Positive Steps’ and for it to be used in our rehabilitation wards as part of discharge planning.”

Billy McCLean, NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Head of Physiotherapy, said: “We are immensely proud of Heather’s achievement and look forward to supporting her in taking this innovative product to other parts of Ayrshire and Arran and beyond.”

Dr Heather Hall, Vera Kidd (Sheltered Housing Manager, South Ayrshire Council), Mrs Morag Kirk (Resources Co-ordinator, NHS Ayrshire & Arran) with ‘Positive Steps’