Falls Prevention Class in Haverhill to Expand as National Falls Awareness Week Nears

Latest lifestyle and leisure news from the Haverhill Echo, haverhillecho.co.uk, @haverhill on Twitter
Latest lifestyle and leisure news from the Haverhill Echo, haverhillecho.co.uk, @haverhill on Twitter

The success of Haverhill Leisure Centre’s falls prevention class Strength and Balance has led to discussions on expanding the class in the town.

The Strength and Balance class is held every Monday at 2pm at the centre and is based on the exercise programme Otago.

The class, led by instructor Carol Clerkin, is very popular with those aged 60 and over with some keen to prevent a fall and others who have suffered a fall and keen to prevent another.

Members of the community interested in joining the class are invited to come along and watch and find out more on Monday (June 16), the start of National Falls Awareness Week.

It has proved so popular that the Centre is working with the West Suffolk Falls Prevention Team to add another class in the town.

Abbeycroft Leisure’s Fitness Manager Mandy Felton, who is Otago qualified, will lead the new class. She said: “The Strength and Balance class has proved so popular with 15 participants regularly attending each week that we are now working with the Falls Prevention Team to put on another weekly class in the town or surrounding area.

“Very often we get referrals from GPs to our Exercise Referral Programme from people who have had a fall at home and have lost confidence.

“The Strength and Balance class can really help people regain that confidence and muscle strength and allow them to then go on to other forms of exercise to keep active.”

Next week is National Falls Awareness Week (June 16-22) which aims to raise awareness of how to prevent falls. According to Age UK, every year, around one in three over-65s living in the community and one in two people aged over 85 will have a fall.

Falls and fractures in people aged 65 and over account for over 4 million hospital bed days each year in England alone and falls, including 70,000 hip fractures annually, are the leading cause of accident-related mortality in older people.

There are now 35 falls prevention exercise classes running every week across West Suffolk.

The Otago programme consists of 21 exercises that are clinically proven to reduce falls by 37 per cent.

The programme consists of specific exercises to strengthen legs and ankles and exercises to challenge balance.

Age UK stated in a report last year that a tailored exercise programme can reduce falls by as much as 54 per cent.

Mandy added: “For many people the class has given them more control over their life by building their confidence in a very safe environment and we ensure that they also have a programme of exercises to follow at home suited to their individual progression.

“For many it is also a very social activity with a chance for tea and chat afterwards.”

For more information on Falls Prevention Classes in West Suffolk contact Sam Reid, Falls prevention Exercise Coordinator for West Suffolk, on 01284 757758.