Falls and fall-related injuries are a common and serious problem for older people. People aged 65 and older have the highest risk of falling, with 30% of people older than 65 and 50% of people older than 80 falling at least once a year.

The human cost of falling includes distress, pain, injury, loss of confidence, loss of independence and mortality. Falling also affects the family members and carers of people who fall. Falls are estimated to cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion per year. Therefore falling has an impact on quality of life, health and healthcare costs.

This guideline provides recommendations for the assessment and prevention of falls in older people. It is an extension to the remit of NICE guideline CG21 (published November 2004) to include assessing and preventing falls in older people during a hospital stay (inpatients). The new recommendations for older people in hospital (2013) sit alongside the original recommendations from the 2004 guideline. It is important to emphasise that all of the 2004 recommendations are just as relevant and important now as they were when they were originally published.

Who this guideline is for

This document is for healthcare and other professionals and staff who care for older people who are at risk of falling.

Populations covered by this guideline

All people aged 65 or older are covered by all guideline recommendations. This is because people aged 65 and older have the highest risk of falling. According to the guideline recommendations, all people 65 or older who are admitted to hospital should be considered for a multifactorial assessment for their risk of falling during their hospital stay. They should also be offered a multifactorial assessment of their community-based falls risk, if appropriate. These assessments may be done together or separately.

People aged 50 to 64 who are admitted to hospital and are judged by a clinician to be at higher risk of falling because of an underlying condition are also covered by the guideline recommendations about assessing and preventing falls in older people during a hospital stay.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)