Falls risk screening

If you’ve fallen, or are at risk of falling, your GP or other health or social care professional may offer you a ‘home and person’ falls risk screen to identify ways to reduce your risk of further falls, and help you to continue to carry out activities that are important to you.

In some situations your GP might refer you directly to a falls clinic (or other hospital clinic) for a medical assessment. This would usually be because you’ve:

  • had a blackout
  • experienced dizziness or palpitations
  • found yourself on the floor and didn’t know why
  • had many falls
Purpose of the screen

The purpose of a falls risk screen is to:

  • listen to what happened and why you think you fell
  • identify risk factors that may have contributed to your fall
  • agree an action plan with you to reduce your risk of falling, and harming yourself should you fall again

As falls are the leading cause of broken bones in older people, the screen should also include a chat about your bone health. Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones, making them more likely to break. Many people are unaware that they may have osteoporosis so it’s helpful to discuss this too.

What happens during screening?

Screening will start with questions about when, where and how you fell and the impact the fall has had on you.

You’ll then be asked about a range of risk factors that may have contributed to your fall, including:

  • your walking, balance, strength and mobility and how you’re managing to carry out daily activities
  • your home environment
  • the medications you currently take
  • your vision and hearing
  • your feet and footwear
  • what you eat and drink
  • anxiety, and fear, about falling
  • depression
  • bladder and bowel conditions that cause you to have to rush to the toilet, use the toilet frequently or get up to use the toilet during the night

You’ll also be asked about your bone health and any symptoms you might have experienced, including:

  • memory loss, confusion and difficulties with thinking and problem solving
  • blackouts
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • palpitations
Agreeing an action plan

An action plan will then be agreed with you based on the outcomes of the screen. Your personalised plan may include:

  • exercises to improve your strength, balance and walking. Either exercising in groups or in your own home can reduce falls
  • help for you to check your home for trip hazards, and to make changes that’ll make your home safer
  • occupational therapy or physiotherapy to help you carry out daily activities more easily and safely
  • a review of the medicines you take and, if required, some changes to your prescription
  • an eyesight and eye health check
  • advice on foot care and, if required, podiatry to manage any foot problems
  • an assessment by a doctor to investigate, and treat, any heart, circulation, blood pressure or other medical problems
  • a scan to find out if you have osteoporosis, and treatment if you’re diagnosed
  • assessment and management of any continence problems
  • advice on what to do if you fall, including how to get up safely and call for help
  • an assessment for equipment – such as walking aids, hand rails and community alarms
  • a care assessment to make things easier at home
  • advice on what steps you can take to reduce your risk of falls

The plan should be designed to suit your individual needs and way of life. Follow up appointments may also be necessary to find out how you’re getting on.

Last updated:
14 March 2023