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The Make Your Home Safer campaign has come to a close!

Saturday 30 April marked the end of the three month Make Your Home Safer falls prevention campaign delivered by Stay On Your Feet®. The Injury Control Council of WA and the Stay On Your Feet® team would like to thank the health and community care professionals who supported the Make Your Home Safer campaign by:

Thank you for contributing to the prevention of slips, trips and falls amongst older adults in the West Australian community.

The Make Your Home Safer campaign raised awareness of falls risks existing in and around the home and described low cost and simple ways that older adults in the community could make safe changes. With around half of all falls amongst older adults happening in and around the home, it is important to make your home safer. The Make Your Home Safer campaign aimed to promote the following key messages to older adults in the community:

  • Falls are preventable,
  • Make your home safer to prevent slips, trips and falls,
  • Ask your GP about an in-home assessment,
  • Use your home safety checklist to check your home for hazards,
  • Use your home safety checklist and action plan to make a safe change, and
  • Let someone know if you have fallen.

Make Your Home Safer campaign milestones

Launch event

To read about the Make Your Home Safer launch event click here.

Resources

Three new resources were released at the launch of the Make Your Home Safer campaign; the Home Safety Checklist, Up Off The Floor with your knees poster and Up Off The Floor with your arms poster. These resources were very popular amongst health and community care professionals and absolutely flew of the shelves. Approximately 11,500 Home Safety Checklists, 5,400 Up Off The Floor (knees) and 4,400 Up Off The Floor (arms) were ordered during the campaign.

The Make Your Home Safer Toolkit is a resource for health and community care professionals or other individuals to deliver a falls prevention information session to groups of older adults in the community. Participants who attended a Make Your Home Safer group information session provided extremely positive feedback during evaluation, reporting that the majority if not all participants, were confident to identify and remove hazards in their home to prevent slips, trips and falls. To download the Make Your Home Safer Toolkit click here.

Grants

West Arthur Community Resource Centre were the recipients of the Make Your Home Safer $5,000 grant. Two ‘Stay Safe in Your Home’ workshops were held and older adults in the community were invited to attend. The workshops were delivered in Wagin and Darkin, each attracting 26 and 32 participants respectively. Local physiotherapist Pam Stockley facilitated the workshops which included activities about recognising hazards in the home environment and what to do to live more safely in your home. Participants were also provided with advice and a demonstration of what to do if you have a fall and how to get up safely. Pam Stockley guided a Physio Chi class and many laughs were had throughout. The events both received great feedback from those who participated and positive reviews in the local newspaper.

Forum

To read about the Make Your Home Safer forum click here.

Community presentations

The fantastic peer volunteers at Stay On Your Feet® were kept busy this campaign, delivering a total of 41 presentations to groups of older adults in the community, including nine Make Your Home Safer presentations. Peer volunteers share tips and strategies that people can make in their home to help them reduce hazards and prevent slips, trips and falls. Participants also receive a Home Safety Checklist and Action plan. These can help to identify hazards in and around the home that might cause a fall and provides simple and low cost ways to remove them.

Stay On Your Feet® in the media

Stay On Your Feet® were featured in a wide variety of media publications including radio during the three month Make Your Home Safer campaign. The key messages of the Make Your Home Safer campaign were the feature of 16 articles in various metropolitan and regional community newspapers. Nine radio interviews with members of the Stay On Your Feet® team were also aired on local regional radio, Curtin FM and 6PR. Make Your Home Safer articles were also published in The Senior, Have a Go and the Health and Medicine Lift-out of the West Australian. Stay On Your Feet® is very pleased that the Make Your Home Safer campaign has featured in local and state media as it means we are reaching older adults throughout Western Australian. The team received many requests for information and resources from older adults in the community as a result of these stories.

Once again Stay On Your Feet® would like to thank those who were involved in the Make Your Home Safer campaign. The next Move Improve Remove campaign; Strengthen Your Legs, will be launching on Thursday 1 September 2016!

The Stepping On program: Preventing falls one step at a time

Falls in older adults can often be attributed to modifiable individual or environmental risk factors. In many cases, falls are caused by a combination of these risk factors. However falls amongst older adults in the community are preventable and reducing these risk factors can significantly reduce the likelihood of a fall occurring. The Falls Prevention Model of Care recommends that, where possible, a multifactorial approach to the prevention of falls should be adopted by older adults to reflect their complex and diverse range of risk factors.

The Stepping On program aims to address the major risk factors for falls and support older adults to improve their self-efficacy, explore different coping strategies, and encourages behavioural change to reduce their risk of slips, trips and falls.

Evaluation of the Stepping On program has reported a 31% reduction in participant falls1. Participant’s efficacy beliefs in coping with challenging functional tasks in the home and community also significantly improved. Moving about safely within the local community to, for example post a letter or do the grocery shopping, is of high importance to many older adults. These results demonstrate that older adult’s confidence to participate in activities of daily living has increased and their risk of falls when doing so has decreased. These findings add to the growing support of the effectiveness of multifactorial programs for preventing falls in the community setting.

Stepping On is delivered by trained health and community care professionals to groups of older adults living in the community. The program is often facilitated by a single occupational therapist or physiotherapist, whilst individual content areas are delivered by other health professionals over the course of the program. Specific areas of content include addressed during the program are:

  • Lower-limb balance and strength exercises,
  • Coping with visual loss and regular visual screening,
  • Medication management,
  • Environmental and behavioural home safety, and
  • Safety in the community.

The Stepping On program has been developed using adult learning principles to increase the knowledge and skills of participants in relation to falls prevention, recognising that older adults have the capacity for learning and change. Specific techniques such as story-telling and mastery experiences within the group context, as well as the use of decision-making theories are used. These guide participants in exploring and overcoming barriers to behavioural changes required to reduce falls risk factors. Each two-hour session also provides time to reflect on learning, sharing accomplishments and ends in planning actions or homework to complete during the week.

A key component of the Stepping On program is the teaching and continued practice of evidence-based strength and balance exercises. A physiotherapist or exercise physiologist is best equipped to teach participants to perform and advance the exercises during three of the seven sessions. A pharmacist, low vision expert and community safety expert will also deliver one session each.

At the completion of the seven week program, each participant also receives an in-home assessment by an occupational therapist.  The occupational therapist can help to reinforce the importance of taking action to prevent falls and make practical suggestions to assist the client to make modify their behaviour or environment.

For more information about the Stepping On Program visit: http://www.steppingon.com/.

  1. Clemson L, Cumming R, Kendig H, Swann M, Heard R, and Taylor K. The effectiveness of a community-based program for reducing the incidence of falls in the elderly: a randomized trial. Journal of American Geriatric Society 52: 1487-1494, 2004.

Event review: Make Your Home Safer forum

Falls prevention starts at home

Almost half of falls amongst older adults in Western Australia occur in the home and garden. Hazards in the home environment, particularly in combination with other falls-risk factors, have a major impact on the risk of slips, trips and falls. Fortunately health and community care professionals in the community can support older adults to significantly reduce their risk and stay independent for as long as possible.

To assist health and community care professionals to provide evidence-based falls prevention information and services to older adults in the community, the Injury Control Council of WA and the Stay On Your Feet® program, held the third Move Improve Remove forum; Make Your Home Safer.

On Thursday 7 April 2016, an audience of allied health and other professionals working with older adults in the community attended in-person at the Boulevard Centre in Floreat, and via webinar, to learn and share their experience preventing falls. Those attending the evening also had the opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and network with other professionals working in this unique falls prevention space.

Stay On Your Feet Forum 7th April 2016 Photographer - Travis Hayto PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA Copyright Travis Hayto

“Beyond mats and poor lighting”

Stay On Your Feet Forum 7th April 2016 Photographer - Travis Hayto PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA Copyright Travis Hayto

The evening began with the first of three guest speakers, each established in their respective fields and well-equipped to share their knowledge and experience about the prevention of falls in and around the homes of older adults.

Occupational Therapist Anne Pressley’s aptly named presentation explored the scope of the occupational therapist’s role in falls and maximising the independence of their older clients.

Occupational therapists have a comprehensive skill set including the ability to conduct specialist assessment of function in unique environmental contexts whilst considering the impact of a client’s medical conditions, disabilities and cognitive or perceptual impairments.

An occupational therapist will then apply goal setting, self-management and behaviour change strategies to support clients to adopt functional strategies and adapt to the required environmental modifications.

“There is strong evidence to support an occupational therapy home visit as part of a multidisciplinary approach to prevent falls” Anne said however also noted that behaviour, cognition, culture and past experience shape a client’s attitude towards falls prevention and strongly influence their likelihood of adopting new or modifying old behaviours to reduce their risk of falling, “We need to have a very clear working relationship and understanding of where your client’s attitudes sit. At the end of the day, a successful falls intervention in a client’s home is going to come down to the relationship that you build with the client”.

Enablement and opening the lines of communication

Stay On Your Feet Forum 7th April 2016 Photographer - Travis Hayto PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA Copyright Travis Hayto

Following on from Anne’s presentation, El Bennet; the Operations Manager of Home and Community Care organisation Melville Cares, shared her experience delivering enablement training to her support staff.

“Enablement training is not just about conditioning the client’s thought processing; it’s also to enable the support staff to have the confidence to discuss the issues that may be presented by occupational therapists and take the client on the journey to achieving sustainable behaviour change”.

An important discussion that arose from El’s presentation involved the link between health professionals and Home and Community Care (HACC) providers. It became clear that HACC support staff have the potential to play a key role in enabling clients to complete, for example, an occupational therapist or physiotherapist prescribed exercise program or changes in the performance of everyday tasks.

El believed that the support worker-client relationship could be credited for the achievement of sustained behaviour change in many older adults receiving HACC services from Melville Cares, however this relationship was not being utilised to its full potential. “HACC support workers may not have the knowledge that occupational therapists have but they do have the privilege of being in the client’s home for a lot longer and building the trust (required to facilitate behaviour change)”.

El described the need for a link, funded or not, between the worlds of health professionals and support workers to prevent not only falls but many other adverse events from happening in the community. For example, if a support worker was notified and present during their client’s occupational therapy assessment, they could then certainly assist with supporting the client to make the necessary modifications to current behaviour as outlined in a care plan.

The current situation was summed up perfectly by El, “HACC support staff have the time with client but they don’t have the education. Health professionals have the education but don’t have the time”.

There was agreement amongst attendees that open lines of communication between health professionals and HACC providers would be ideal of great benefit to clients. However determining how this would be achieved remained elusive.

Livable housing for an independent life

Stay On Your Feet Forum 7th April 2016 Photographer - Travis Hayto PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA Copyright Travis Hayto

To conclude the evening, accredited access consultant at Planot, Claire Cunningham, shared her knowledge and passion for livable housing as “housing that is for anybody, of any age, of any ability”.

Claire encouraged the audience to think about their home and how their ‘nanna’ would navigate, for example, the four steps up to the front door, the narrow width of the corridor when attempting to manoeuvre her walking frame, or entering the shower with a high threshold.

This helped attendees understand the significance of the home environment in the ability of older adults to perform activities of daily living and how certain features may increase or decrease their risk of falls.

Claire then outlined the following areas of the home that can be modified, or better yet, designed prior to construction, to meet the criteria of a livable house: paths of travel, lighting, thresholds, door widths and circulation space. The specifications required of each area are described in various Australian guidelines and standards, rather than a single document. However she said there was limited uptake of these guidelines by the construction industry as they are not legislated.

Despite this, Claire’s take home message remained that “the answer lies in planning rather than modification”. When audience members inquired about the increased costs associated with livable housing, Claire said that the “benefits far outweigh the costs and the costs themselves can be minimal”. Planning and constructing livable homes that can be easily adapted for modifications in the future or better still, that require minimal modifications, is far less costly than carrying out major modifications to homes built without considering the needs of occupants across their lifespan.

In conclusion

The Injury Control Council of WA and the Stay On Your Feet® program would like to thank all those who attended the evening and for contributing to the prevention of falls in the Western Australian community.

Feedback collected from those in the audience was largely positive noting that forum contained information relevant to their current role and had increased their awareness and knowledge of the topics discussed.

The next Move Improve Remove forum will be held during the three-month Strengthen Your Legs campaign launching in September 2016.

How the Otago Exercise Programme prevents slips, trips and falls

Are a Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist or Exercise Physiologist interested in doing more to reduce your client’s risk of falling?

If so, Stay On Your Feet® invites you to attend training in the delivery of the Otago Exercise Programme this month. As a health professional, delivering this evidence-based and effective exercise program is an excellent way that you can assist older adults to prevent slips, trips and falls.

How to become a trained instructor of the Otago Exercise Programme

Stay On Your Feet® and Community West are working in partnership to deliver:

An Introduction to the Otago Exercise Programme to Prevent Falls in Older Adults

This instructor training workshop will provide eligible attendees with the opportunity to learn about the practical implementation of the Otago Exercise Programme and to acquire the skills and confidence to deliver the program to clients in your clinical practise. You will also share your experience and knowledge in implementing exercise programs with older adults at risk of falls.

What will I learn at the instructor training workshop?

  • The principles of strength and balance training,
  • To clearly explain the rationale and benefits of the Otago Exercise Programme to older adults,
  • Assess participants and individually tailor the programme to meet variations in client physical capacity and health,
  • Ensure participants can perform exercises safely and confidently, with correct movement patterns,
  • Adapt the programme as necessary after participant has periods of illness,
  • Provide support and motivation to each participant.

You will also receive an Otago Exercise Programme to Prevent Falls activity booklet.

Workshop information

Date: Thursday 24 March 2016

Time: 9.00am – 2.00pm (registration at 8.45am)

Venue: Joondalup Reception Centre, 102 Boas Avenue, Joondalup 6027

Cost: $180 (including GST)

Light lunch and refreshments included.

Register here

Download the event flyer

Keep reading to find out more about the Otago Exercise Programme and an upcoming training opportunity.

The evidence

Previous research has found that poor strength and balance are risk factors for falls and injuries in older adults. The good thing is research has also found that strength and balance can be improved by specific exercises.

The Otago Exercise Programme is a set of leg muscle strengthening and balance retraining exercises designed specifically to prevent falls. It is individually prescribed and delivered by trained instructors.

Four controlled trials have been conducted in cities and towns across New Zealand, to assess whether the Otago Exercise Programme reduces falls and falls-related injuries in older adults living in the community. 1016 men and women aged between 65 and 97 years, were invited by the general practitioner to participate in the trials.

Fewer falls and injuries

Participation in the Otago Exercise Programme reduced the number of falls and number of falls-related injuries that older adults experienced by an average of 35% across the four trials. The programme was also more effective in older adults aged 80 years and above, particularly in reducing the number and severity of injuries experienced if they did fall.

Strength and balance improvements

Older adult’s strength and balance improved as a result of participating in the Otago Exercise Programme. These measures were assessed using the chair stand test and four-test balance scale.

Confidence to live life to the full

Participants also reported increased confidence in their ability to carry out their daily activities without having a fall. This is of particular importance as people who are afraid of falling may become physically inactive, resulting in further declines in muscle strength and balance. It may also increase their likelihood of becoming socially withdrawn and isolated, negatively impacting on their social and mental wellbeing.

With very few adverse events occurring over the course of the four trails the Otago Exercise Programme has been proven to be a safe, effective, practical and low-cost falls prevention strategy from which older adults can benefit from.

Make Your Home Safer campaign update

The launch

Since it’s launch on Tuesday the 1st of February, the Make Your Home Safer campaign has been promoting the importance of home safety as a means to prevent slips, trips and falls amongst older adults living in the community.

The campaign kicked off with a launch event, attended by 34 Western Australian health and community care professionals both in-person and via webinar, explaining how Stay On Your Feet® will be supporting them to reduce older adult’s risk of falling throughout the three month campaign.

If you haven’t had a chance to view the campaign video featuring our very talented volunteer peer presenter Alma, please click here. The event presentation and speakers, including Emily Anderson; A/Manager of the Stay On Your Feet® program and Occupational Therapist; Andrea Whyte, were recorded and available to view here.

DSC_0072 DSC_0077
Left-right: Stay On Your Feet® A/Manager Emily Anderson and guest speaker; Occupational Therapist Andrea Whyte.

New resources in high demand

The launch of the Make Your Home Safer campaign was accompanied by the release of a number of new tools and resources that older adults, health and community care professionals, as well as friends, family and carers can use to help prevent slips, trips and falls.

The Home Safety Checklist is an easy-to-read checklist describing six areas in the home that may be a falls hazard, including floors, lighting, steps, walkways, furniture and outdoors. The checklist encourages older adults to check their home for hazards and provides simple and low cost tips to make their homes safer. The checklist and action plan can be completed by older adults by themselves or with assistance from a family member, friend, neighbour or carer.

There are also two new Up Off The Floor Posters including Falls Action Plan, that demonstrate how older adults can safely get up off the floor to limit or reduce further injury, in the case that they do have a fall. Older adults may use their arms or knees to get up depending on their capabilities and what is most comfortable for them.

Both of these resources have been flying off the shelves and very popular with health professionals and community members alike. These printed resources and many more are available to view and download at www.stayonyourfeet.com.au and order for free at www.injurymattersquickmail.com.au.

Empower community members to make a change

The Make Your Home Safer Educator Toolkit is your step-by-step guide to delivering an informative, interactive and enjoyable falls prevention information session to older adults. The toolkit includes all of the content you can discuss, as well as a session plan, PowerPoint presentation, suggested activities and video tutorials, conversation starters and a list of the resources you may like to provide to group members. Download your free copy of the toolkit here and start supporting older adults to make their homes safer to prevent slips, trips and falls.

MYHS toolkit cover

As the Make Your Home Safer campaign enters its second month, Stay On Your Feet® encourages all health and community care professionals to get involved and promote the prevention of falls. For example, if you coordinate a community or special interest group for older adults, why not call us on 1300 30 35 40 and book in a Make Your Home Safer community presentation or book a presentation online with one of our wonderful volunteer peer presenters.

Professional development opportunity

If you work with older adults living in the community, Stay On Your Feet® invite you to attend the Make Your Home Safer forum on Thursday 7 April. With a number of expert presenters confirmed to discuss topics surrounding home safety and falls prevention, this event is sure to be a fantastic learning and networking opportunity. For more information and to register to attend the forum (in-person or via webinar) please click here.

What’s next?

Now it’s your turn! Deliver a Make Your Home Safer information session to older adults using the toolkit, learn and network at the Make Your Home Safer forum, order new resources for your practice, hold a falls prevention display or book a community presentation, the choice is yours. If you are organising a falls prevention event for older adults in the community, you can promote it on the Stay On Your Feet® eDirectory. Registration is simple and free! Register here.

Build Your Balance grants wrap up

The second round of  Stay On Your Feet® grants aimed to improve older adults balance to reduce their risk of having a slip, trip or fall.  Moving your body improves an older adult’s balance and posture, strengthens muscles and bones and improves overall fitness and general wellbeing

Congratulations to the three successful applicants listed below who implemented innovative programs during the Build Your Balance campaign, which ran from September to November 2015.

City of Greater Geraldton  developed a low intensity strength and balance group within the community, which was easily accessible by older adults and free to attend.  The program consisted of two 60 minute sessions per week run from the local seniors and community centre.  Allied health staff from the city assisted in running the programs.

City of Albany  developed a falls prevention program that trained peer exercise volunteers to deliver free to low cost strength and balance exercise sessions for older adults at the Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre.  Volunteer peer instructors were trained and initially overseen by qualified gym instructors.  Two classes of 30-45 minutes were held each week.  

City of Perth  developed a 12 week multi-component balance and education program.  Sessions consisted of tai-chi, led by a qualified instructor and educational sessions delivered by various health professionals and peer educators.  The City of Perth will be looking at implementing a similar program in 2016.

Stay On Your Feet® is provided by Injury Matters and funded by the Western Australian Department of Health.

Find out more
Government of Western Australia Department of Health Injury Matters