PCare Physiotherapists work collaboratively with Residents, their family/caregivers, and staff to prevent falls and minimise potential injuries. Physiotherapy one-on-one exercises and/or Group Exercise interventions are a key evidence-based falls prevention strategy.
During COVID-19 restrictions and isolation periods, physiotherapists saw first-hand the negative impact on Residents’ physical activity further increasing their risk of falls.
Routinely and following a Resident’s COVID-19 isolation period, PCare Physiotherapists conduct comprehensive Resident assessments with a holistic, person-centred approach to identify modifiable falls risk factors and non-modifiable falls risk factors. The assessment process includes capturing the Resident’s falls history, frequency, context, injuries sustained and return to baseline physical activity/function following the fall; identifying the Resident’s medical history, cognitive risk factors, and identifying Medications known to increase the risk of falls. This is followed by a comprehensive physical evidence-based assessment identifying the physical risk factors related to gait and balance. Following an episode of COVID-19 isolation period, physical risk factors increased.
Upon completion of the physiotherapy assessment, the physiotherapist will complete a FRAT (Falls Risk Assessment Tool) which identifies whether the Resident is a High, Medium or Low falls risk. From this the physiotherapist in collaboration with the Resident, their family/caregivers, and Registered Nurses, establish falls prevention strategies to minimise the incidents of falls and potential injury.
Along with providing Residents and their family/caregivers with Falls Prevention Education, PCare Physiotherapists recommend a ‘Healthy Ageing’ approach which focuses on Residents maintain and/or restoring functional ability that enables their wellbeing. This is achieved by individualised exercise programs and/or group exercise programs tailored for each individual Resident. Research has identified that there is a 23% reduction in falls with regular exercise (NSW Falls Prevention & Healthy Aging Network).
PCare Physiotherapists are also involved with the annual April Falls Month. This annual campaign aims to raise awareness about the impact of falls and to promote the latest evidence-based practice research for falls prevention strategies. The theme for April Falls Month 2023 was ‘Better Balance for Fall Prevention’ with the goal of promoting increasing physical activity for fall prevention, and improvement of life and social balance for better mental health. The key exercise feature for April Falls 2023, was the introduction of exercise or activities that target on improving strength and introducing high-challenge balance exercises. Research by Professor Cathie Sherrington (Professor & Senior Principal Research Fellow, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney) has shown that “slowly building up high-challenge balance exercises can increase the effects of exercise by up to 40 per cent”.
Residents across all levels of ambulant mobility and falls risk, positively embraced the high-challenge balance exercises. PCare Physiotherapists provided Residents with individualised one-on-one high-challenge balance exercises and group balance exercise classes for selected Residents. Along with engaging in the physical challenge, Residents benefited from the social engagement with other Residents and supported each other, which in turn further encouraged ongoing participation. PCare Physiotherapists are continuing with the high-challenge balance exercises introduced in April with ongoing Resident participation. Falls data will continue to be analysed monthly to identify a reduction in falls.
Madelyn Nicole Physiotherapist, Clinical Manager (PCare)
Brown W J, Moorhead GE and Marshall AL (2005). Choose Health: Be Active: A physical activity guide for older Australians. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia and the Repatriation Commission © 2005.
ESSA Exercise for Older Adults eBook 2020. https://www.essa.org.au/Public/News_Room/Media_Releases1/2020/ESSA%20launches%20latest%20eBook%20Exercise%20for%20Older%20Adults.aspx
Manuel Montero-Odasso et al. ‘World guidelines for falls prevention and management for older adults: a global initiative’. (2022). Age and Ageing 2022; 51: 1–36. https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afac205NSW Falls Prevention & Healthy Aging Network. https://fallsnetwork.neura.edu.au
NSW Falls Prevention & Healthy Aging Network. https://fallsnetwork.neura.edu.au