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Programme aims to reduce number of falls

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Dealing a blow to alarming falls statistics is the aim of a popular programme keeping older Rotorua people balanced, upright and safe.

Dozens of older people attend Sport Bay of Plenty’s BUS (Balanced, Upright and Safe) Programme each week to help retain and regain their physical strength and balance.

The falls prevention programme was established more than a decade ago to help prevent falls in older people.

Falls cost New Zealand hundreds of millions of dollars a year, with an estimated $536m for treatment and rehabilitation, $271m from lost economic contribution and human costs of $929m, according to the New Zealand Injury Prevention Strategy.

Accident Compensation Corporation statistics show 75 per cent of all injury-related hospital admissions are fall-related and falls are behind half of all ACC claims and costs in people aged 65 or older.

Sport Bay of Plenty’s five weekly 45 minute BUS classes, formerly funded by ACC, rely on grants from community groups, including the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust which recently approved a grant for $5000 to help subsidise the classes this year.

Rotorua 78-year-old Margaret Kelly is a BUS Programme fan after attending classes for about nine years.

"I’ve stayed quite fit and active and the classes are wonderful. I really believe in it. It’s grown into a community where we’re quite supportive of each other," Margaret said.

Classes include gentle exercises to music, the use of a range of equipment and cool down stretching.

"A wide variety of people come and they can work at their own pace," she said.

Recreation team leader Sonia Lynds said those attending classes pay a $2 fee per session but alternate funding streams are needed to keep it afloat.

"It’s important to keep the costs down for our older community often on limited incomes so we rely on support from the likes of the Rotorua Trust. Staying balanced, upright and safe is of huge benefit to people as they age," Sonia said.

The BUS programme timetable can be downloaded at

According to ACC, between 22 and 60 per cent of people aged 65-plus are injured in falls, depending on the population studied. Up to 15 per cent of the age group suffer serious injuries and up to six per cent suffer fractures.

The most common fall-related injuries needing hospitalisation include neck fractures, leg and arm fractures and fractures of the trunk.

Hip fractures are the most serious fall-related injuries with a long recovery period.

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