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Spend on housing to prevent falls: study

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/03/2017

© Shutterstock Government social investment in safer housing would be justified to prevent falls, an Otago University study has concluded.

Lead author Associate Professor Michael Keall says a national roll-out of home safety measures is supported by evidence and economics.

He says the social benefits of preventing injuries through home modifications were at least six times the costs of the intervention.

"Moreover, this benefit-cost ratio was doubled for older people and increased by 60 per cent for those with a prior history of fall injuries," he said.

Researchers at He Kainga Oranga/the Housing and Health Research Programme at the university's Wellington campus tested the safety benefits of home modifications.

These included handrails for steps and stairs, grab rails for bathrooms, outside lighting and slip-resistant surfacing for areas like decks and porches.

The study also found that nationally there were more than 300,000 medically treated injuries from falls in the home each year, with an additional 150 deaths.

The research, published in the journal Injury Prevention, adds to a Home Injury Prevention Intervention study done by He Kainga Oranga researchers.

That study, which appeared earlier in The Lancet, showed injuries from falls in the home were reduced by just over a quarter after the intervention, with an average of $564 being spent per home.

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