Aim. This paper is a report of a study to explore the experiences of older people who suffered a recent fall and identify possible factors that could contribute to service development. Background. Falls in older people are prevalent and are associated with morbidity, hospitalization and mortality, personal costs to individuals and financial costs to health services. Method. A convenience sample of 27 older people (mean age 84 years; range 65–98) participated in semi-structured taped interviews. Follow-up interviews during 2003–2004 were undertaken to detect changes over time. Data were collected about experience of the fall, use of services, health and well-being, activities of daily living, informal care, support networks and prevention. Thematic content analysis was undertaken. Findings. Twenty-seven initial interviews and 18 follow-up interviews were conducted. The majority of people fell indoors (n = 23) and were alone (n = 15). The majority of falls were repeat falls (n = 22) and five were a first-ever fall. People who reflected on their fall and sought to understand why and how it occurred developed strategies to prevent future falls, face their fear, maintain control and choice and continue with activities of daily living. Those who did not reflect on their fall and did not know why it occurred restricted their activities and environments and remained in fear of falling. Conclusion. Assisting people to reflect on their falls and to understand why they happened could help with preventing future falls, allay fear, boost confidence and aid rehabilitation relating to their activities of daily living.