BACKGROUND : Among the elderly falls frequently result in injuries, increase the need for long-term care and pose a challenge for the quality assurance in nursing care. We describe the frequency and risk factors of falls among care-dependent persons using home care services in Germany. METHODS : The participants of the study "Nursing-related health problems in home care" (n = 880) were recruited based on a list of the officially accredited nursing services. Data collection followed a standardized study protocol. Proportions were calculated and adjusted odds ratios and predicted probabilities were estimated using binary logistic regression. RESULTS : Falls are a frequent occurrence among care-dependent persons who are cared for by home care services: Almost every tenth care-dependent person suffers from a fall within a period of 2 weeks. Falls are mainly associated with social and care-related factors. Besides a low educational status this comprises certain living and care arrangements: People living alone or having infrequent contact to their nursing service as well as clients that, according to their carers, should receive more support have a significantly higher chance of falling. Multimorbidity is a medical risk factor while neurological diseases as well as polypharmacy present increased risks only in interaction with living and care arrangements. CONCLUSIONS : Nursing staff and physicians should maintain an overview of the social and health conditions of people in need of long-term care. If care-dependent persons live alone or are infrequently cared for, additional medical problems considerably increase the risk for falling; therefore, preventive interventions and follow-up assessments of actual need levels should be promptly considered if health conditions or living arrangements change.