Trained community care workers are able to safely incorporate a falls prevention exercise program into their existing services for older clients, new research by Curtin University has found.
The paper, published in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging today, examined the feasibility of 25 community care workers across Western Australia delivering falls prevention exercise programs to older clients, either at low or medium risk of falling over.
Lead author Dr Elissa Burton, from the School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science at Curtin University, said the results showed the huge toll of falls among older home care clients could be addressed by incorporating prevention exercises into the existing services offered by community care workers.
“Our research found that 82 per cent of surveyed clients enjoyed the exercises they were given, with 59 per cent saying the activities in the falls prevention program made a positive change in their health,” Dr Burton said.
“This tells us that the clients saw the benefit of taking part in falls prevention exercise programs and those programs were safely incorporated into the existing services offered by community care workers.”
Dr Burton said the research aimed to address the declining number of community care clients taking part in falls prevention programs.
“Older people receiving community care services in Australia are twice as likely to fall as older people of the same age who are not receiving services, and these falls rates have not changed over the last decade,” Dr Burton said.
“Another study by our Curtin team has shown that there was a 47 per cent reduced likelihood of falls among community care clients who take part in falls prevention programs, so this research offers another potential avenue to help clients who might be at risk of falling.”
Dr Burton said further research would be needed to determine whether the delivery of falls prevention exercise programs reduced the rate of falls among participating clients.
Each community care worker received four hours of training in order to be able to offer the falls prevention exercise programs to their clients as part of the existing services they offer.
The average age of community care clients involved in this study was 82.7 years.
The full paper, ‘Can community care workers deliver a falls prevention exercise program? A feasibility study’, can be viewed here.