27 Oct 2009

ACC scraps programme that reduces elderly falls

5:38 pm on 27 October 2009

The Accident Compensation Corporation has scrapped a national prevention programme that reduces just over half of all falls by people over the age of 80.

The corporation's new board has cut funding as it struggles with a budget blowout.

ACC says it is committed to falls prevention but cannot afford to pay for the programme, which costs up to $600 per person.

Otago University professor John Campbell led the programme and says he is devastated by the decision to scrap it.

Professor Campbell told Nine to Noon the programme has been successful in preventing elderly people from falling and suffering major injury.

He says the programme is effective because it is designed for the 80-plus age group and involves one-on-one care provided to a patient by a nurse who works to improve leg strength by using weights over a period of time.

"It's effective particularly in this group because they're right at that threshold where their daily living activities actually constitute a threat to their balance and they're liable to fall carrying out everyday activities.

"What this programme does is lift them above that threshold where their daily living activities are much less hazardous."

ACC says modified tai chi programmes will replace the Otago programme.