Research funding secured to improve the care for patients who have fallen

A research collaboration involving the University of Sheffield has been award £700k to investigate the health implications for older patients who experience a prolonged period of time on the floor following a fall.

Old person fallen down

A research collaboration between Yorkshire Ambulance Service Research Institute (YASRI), the University of Sheffield and Mid Yorkshire NHS Teaching Trust has been awarded £700k to conduct new research to understand the health implications for older patients who have experienced a prolonged period of time on the floor following a fall, called a ‘long lie’. The research will take place over three years and is funded from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Health and Social Care Delivery Research Programme. 

Ten percent of emergency 999 calls to Yorkshire Ambulance Service relate to patients who have fallen. When there is increased demand for ambulance services, patients may be more likely to experience a delay in the ambulance arriving, resulting in a ‘long lie’. This study will seek to understand more about this risk to patient safety and the scale of the problems associated with long lies.

Not only is a long lie undignified and uncomfortable for patients but it may cause serious physical and psychological complications, in some cases worse than the injuries caused by the fall. The project will seek to understand what these complications are, when they occur, and how they affect recovery.

It will also look at how long lies are currently managed or mitigated both prior to an ambulance arriving and until the patient reaches definitive care, by surveying and speaking to health care professionals, social care staff, patients and their relatives.  The project will develop recommendations to reduce the risk of adverse outcomes for patients following a fall.

Two paramedics in an ambulance.

Dr Julian Mark, Executive Medical Director of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, explained: “There are long-standing concerns about patients in the community who may have been at risk from complications from long lies, and no one wants patients to be left on the floor for any longer than necessary.  I am delighted that this research has been funded, hosted by YASRI, as it will produce valuable information to inform future plans across the country to provide optimal care and prevent harm to patients.”

Dr Fiona Sampson, Director of Centre for Urgent and Emergency Care (CURE) in the School of Medicine and Population Health at the University of Sheffield and Principal Investigator for the study, said: “I am delighted that we have the opportunity to explore this important service-driven research question. We hope that our findings will lead to greater understanding of the implications of a long lie and direct improvements to future patient care for this patient group.”

Judith Holliday, Head of Research at Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust, said: “This study is an excellent example of how collaborative research can have a real tangible impact on patient care and experience. By bringing together our knowledge and experience, we can bring about positive change for patients across the country as well as here in Yorkshire.”

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