Helping older people stand on their own two feet

Dr Anne-Marie Hill; Jacqui Francis-Coad; Notre Dame PhD student, Marian McCarthy; Dr Penny Flett; Collaborative Research Network Project Manager, Dr Patty Washer; and Notre Dame Research Coordinator and Brightwater Centre Manager, Dr Caroline Bulsara.

27 March 2014

A groundbreaking research initiative that aims to reduce falls and subsequent injuries among older people who live in residential aged care facilities has been launched by the Brightwater Care Group in collaboration with The University of Notre Dame Australia.

Chief Executive Officer of Brightwater Care Group, Dr Penny Flett, unveiled the 'Falls Prevention Community of Practice' project along with Notre Dame Early Career Research Fellow, Associate Professor Anne-Marie Hill, and APA Gerontology Physiotherapist and Doctoral scholar in the School of Physiotherapy, Jacqui Francis-Coad, in February 2014.

The Community of Practice will comprise representatives from the 13 Brightwater residential aged care facility sites across Perth and involve health professionals from a range of disciplines including nursing, occupational therapy and management staff.

The Practice will examine the range of factors contributing to falls within Brightwater's residential aged care facilities and implement tailored strategies to address any needs or concerns. It is envisaged that the findings of this research will inform new strategies to mitigate falls among older people across the wider aged care sector.

During the launch, Dr Flett said this was the first time a community of practice for falls prevention had been implemented in a residential aged care facility, outside of the tertiary sector.

"There are already many efforts to reduce falls within residential aged care facilities, such as maintaining the mobility status of residents and the optimising of internal environments for access," Dr Flett said.

"However, to coordinate and consolidate all these efforts, we need a more collaborative team approach for the sustained and effective outcome of reducing falls in residential aged care facilities."

Ms Francis-Coad said this was a valuable collaboration which combined Brightwater's philosophy and Notre Dame's Institute for Health Research objectives of promoting the health and enabling the wellbeing of people and their communities.

"We plan to introduce a dynamic social structure, with the aim of creating a core value-added capability within the Brightwater organisation for adopting evidence-based practice in the area of falls prevention," Ms Francis-Coad said.

"We are particularly hoping that the problems falls cause for older people, such as the loss of confidence and trauma from physical injury that in turn impact on their quality of life, can be reduce with our efforts."

The project is being supported by the Australian Government's Collaborative Research Network (CRN) program.

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;