Maintaining and improving balance by participating in regular and challenging balance activities is an evidence-based and effective falls prevention strategy. Numerous studies into the effectiveness of particular exercise programs in improving balance and preventing falls, has time and time again found that tai chi is a safe and effective activity that older adults can perform to reduce their risk of falls.
As Western Australia’s leading falls prevention program, Stay On Your Feet® aims to promote and refer older adults in the community to safe and effective falls prevention programs such as tai chi. To improve the accessibility of tai chi classes delivered by qualified tai chi instructors within the Perth metropolitan and regional areas in Western Australia, Stay On Your Feet® has been delivering Tai Chi for Arthritis for Falls Prevention Instructor Training Workshops to health and community care professionals for the past two years.
These two-day intensive workshops provide participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to conduct modified tai chi classes aimed at improving balance, confidence and muscular strength to prevent falls. The workshops are facilitated by occupational therapist and master trainer in Tai Chi for Arthritis, Rani Hughes with support from Melanie Browne (Arthritis WA) and Sam Sujatna (Perth Tai Chi Academy). Together these instructors have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the history and teaching of tai chi.
Most recently in June this year, two Tai Chi for Arthritis for Falls Prevention Instructor Training Workshops were held; one in Fremantle and the other in Geraldton. A total of 23 health and community care professionals working with older adults attended the workshops; learning the background and history of tai chi and how to perform and teach tai chi safe and effectively to older people who may have arthritis or other health conditions.
To receive accreditation as a Tai Chi for Arthritis for Falls Prevention Instructor, participants were required to complete a written and practical assessment. An impressive 90% of participants successfully passed the assessments and received their instructor certification. This is a reflection of the high quality instruction provided by instructors Rani, Melanie and Sam but also of the enthusiasm and hard-working participants.
Upon completion of the workshop, participants provided feedback to Stay On Your Feet® and instructors via short questionnaires. Overall, participants found the workshop content to be excellent and very useful. The majority of participants reported they were confident to deliver the program and intended to implement their newfound knowledge and skills by delivering tai chi classes to older adults in the community including out-patient hospital and rehabilitation settings.
Participants at the Fremantle workshop with instructors; Sam, Rani and Mel.
When asked which aspects of the workshop they enjoyed most, many participants cited that learning and practicing the tai chi movements and networking with other attendees were highly enjoyable. One attendee enjoyed “Learning the form and the detailed demonstrations and instruction” whilst others enjoyed “Meeting like-minded people” and “Engaging with the local tai chi community”. There was also high praise for the workshop instructors; attendees stating that they were an “Engaging and insightful teaching group” and were “very friendly and professional”.
Attendees left the workshops satisfied with their learning experience and keen to start, or continue to deliver tai chi classes in the community. Many participants also indicated interest in attending a follow-up session, to be held on Saturday 12 November at City West Lotteries House in West Perth. This session, facilitated by Sam Sujatna, will provide instructors with an opportunity to receive further instruction on the movements to increase their confidence to deliver and discuss the challenges of program delivery with Sam and other instructors. This follow-up session is open to anyone who has successfully completed the Tai Chi for Arthritis for Falls Prevention Instructor Training. If you would like to attend the follow-up session please click here.
If you are a health or community care professional working with older adults and would like to deliver Tai Chi for Arthritis for Falls Prevention please register your interest here. Stay On Your Feet® can deliver the workshop in metropolitan and regional areas with sufficient demand.