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Brought to you by Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora – Southern and WellSouth primary health network

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Preventing falls

Stay active, stay healthy, live stronger for longer.

Falling over is not a natural part of the ageing process and many falls are preventable.

Preventing falls is an important part of older people's health. Experiencing a fall can bring not only the risk of injury, but can affect people's confidence and lead to further restriction of activities. However, this in turn can reduce one's exercise and strength, further increasing the risk of falls.

This is why many programmes and advice are available, focusing on the following areas, to support our older people to prevent falls, and to maintain strength and balance. 


    Targeted exercise programmes are designed to prevent falls and usually consist of leg muscle strengthening and balance retraining exercises.

    If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions, you could benefit from the strength and balance exercises.

    • Have you slipped, tripped or fallen in the last year?
    • Can you get out of a chair without using your hands?
    • Have you avoided some activities because you are afraid you might lose your balance?

    The B-Well Falls and Fracture Prevention Team can assess to see if a home-based exercise and walking programme is the right option.

    Based on the Otago Exercise Programme, these exercises can help reduce the risk of falling. Exercises can be increased in difficulty and frequency as your strength and balance improve.

    Home Safety

    Simple changes at home can reduce the risk of having a fall. A home safety checklist can also be found on the ACC Live Stronger for Longer website. 

    Community Strength and Balance

    Community group classes that have received the ‘tick of approval’ can be found on the ACC Live Stronger for Longer website:

    The ‘tick of approval’ is only awarded to classes that meet the evidence-based criteria of effectiveness. This helps you to know that the class you choose is one that offers exercise to reduce your risk of falling. Here in the south, we have a wide range of classes available including gym circuits, Zumba Gold and gentle exercise.

    Fracture Prevention

    Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become thin and fragile, making them more prone to fractures. Worldwide, it affects one in three women aged over 50 years and one in five men. The most common fractures are of the wrist, spine, hip and upper arm. They are caused by a minimal degree of trauma such as a fall from standing height or less and can result in a lifetime of disability and pain, even death. Awareness of the risk and early diagnosis are the key to the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis-related fractures. You can find tools to help you identify possible risk factors at Osteoporosis New Zealand 

    Health Navigator also provides excellent resources and advice for avoiding falls.

    Working together to prevent falls

    ACC, the Ministry of Health, and the Health Quality and Safety Commission have come together to support the development of national and local strategies to deliver a falls prevention scheme to help New Zealanders keep their independence and to stay safe on their feet.

    The B-Well, Falls and  Fracture Prevention Team at WellSouth offers:

    • Fracture liaison – working with GP’s to identify patients who are at risk of fractures related to osteoporosis.
    • Home-based falls prevention exercise interventions
    • Lead agency for the development and support of Community Strength and Balance Groups.
    • A single point of contact for falls prevention in the Te Whatu Ora Southern region, working closely with other community services to ensure people can access the intervention that is most needed.

    If you would like to refer yourself or speak to a member of the B-Well Falls and Fracture Prevention Team: 

    • call 0800 477 115

    If you are a health professional and would like to refer someone: 

    • email OR 
    • use ERMS (under ‘Community Programmes’).

    Nymbl App 

    Nymbl is a free, fun and easy to use app that is fully funded by ACC.  It is designed to help people 50 and older stay safe on their feet, combining simple body movements with brain games to challenge both the brain and body.  With just 10 minutes a day you can stay active and improve your balance.  Nymbl can be a great complement to community strength and balance classes to increase confidence and independence.

    The Nymbl app is available from Google Play and the Apple Appstore.

    Two supportive videos are available:

    • The first video, ‘What is Nymbl?’ aims to increase engagement by providing older adults with a greater understanding of what the app is and how it works. The video also provides a support function for our secondary audience (friends, family, Community Strength and Balance instructors and health professionals) who may wish to use this resource to refer someone they know to Nymbl.

            YouTube: What is Nymbl? - YouTube

    •  The second video, ‘How to download Nymbl?’ is designed to help older adults in downloading the app by guiding them through each step in a clear and supportive manner. The video is also designed to be a support resource for our secondary audience who may not have the time or ability to take their friend, loved one or patient through the download process.  

           YouTube: How to download Nymbl - YouTube