Launch of £300,000 project to reduce the number of falls in the Harrogate district

A Strong and Steady exercise class.
A Strong and Steady exercise class.
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A £300,000 project has been launched by North Yorkshire County Council to help reduce the number of falls in the Harrogate district.

Funded through the council's public health team and stronger communities programme, the Strong and Steady project is delivering a range of new specialist exercise classes across the whole of North Yorkshire, with the aim of getting older people more active to prevent falls in the long term. The activities are being delivered through North Yorkshire Sport with the support of other partner organisations.

Figures obtained by the 'Advertiser show the alarming scale of falls in the Harrogate district, with 1,058 people aged 65 and over being admitted to Harrogate District Hospital for falls in 2016.

In the summer months, 257 people were admitted for falls, compared to 294 people in the winter months - showing a 14.4 per cent increase in winter. The highest number of falls recorded for a single month in 2016 was 103 (in January), and the lowest number of falls recorded by the hospital was 77, (in July).

The hospital's falls prevention service also saw 755 referrals in the same year.

To help tackle the issue head-on, North Yorkshire Sport is setting up 15 specialist exercise classes across the county, which will also provide information and advice about related issues for older people. Fairfax community centre hosted the official launch of the scheme in April.

Chief Executive of North Yorkshire Sport, David Watson, said: “Increased levels of physical activity are proven to help reduce falls and support people living independently. These classes will be a great way of supporting these increases.

"Perhaps just as importantly, they will be fun and supportive, and people will be able to take part at their own pace."

The Harrogate Easier Living Project helps older people to live independently through a number of initiatives, including a help at home service, and a volunteer driver scheme.

The charity's project development worker, Lizzie Hughes, has welcomed the launch of Strong and Steady - emphasising that the impact of falls is not just physical.

She said: "Having a fall can really knock someone's confidence. It's not just the physical consequences, it's more far-reaching than that.

"A fall can make someone more isolated, as they might not want to risk going out in the garden or walking somewhere. They think, it's happened once, it can happen again. North Yorkshire County Council are absolutely going the right way about doing something to help lessen the worry of having a fall and reducing the risk of it happening."

The latest annual survey carried out by the Harrogate Easier Living Project, shows that 56 per cent of their clients are worried about having a fall while they are out and about, while 42 per cent are worried about having a fall at home.

To find out more about the Strong and Steady programme, call North Yorkshire Sport on 01423 226303.