Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in adults aged 65 or older. The economic impact of falls is immense, with falls estimated to cost the NHS over £435 million with fragility factures costing $4.4 billion annually in the UK, with hip fractures accounting for around £2 billion. There are over 400,000 people living in residential aged care homes in the UK, including 285,000 with dementia or memory problems, and these numbers will rise substantially. Current interventions to prevent falls in long-term care settings are complex and expensive.
Light has multiple ‘non-visual’ effects including directly improving alertness and cognitive function, reducing depression and improving sleep, and maintaining synchronisation of the circadian (24-hour) clock. We have recently completed a clinical trial assessing the impact of a dynamic lighting intervention on fall rates in care homes, with blue-enriched bright white light in the day and blue-depleted dimmer white light in the evening. The rate of clinically-verified falls fell by 43% following the lighting intervention.
This talk will summarise the background science supporting the physiological effects of light, the clinical trial results and the further validation of improved lighting as an effective, passive, low-cost, low-burden fall-reduction intervention. We aim to establish a new standard of care for residential care home lighting.