Trained community care workers can 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 this week, examined the feasibility of 25 community care workers delivering an 8-week falls prevention exercise program to Western Australian Home and Community Care clients, either at low or medium risk of falling over.

Lead author Dr Elissa Burton from the university’s School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science said the results showed a falls prevention program could be integrated into existing services without substantially increasing the service time required.

“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,” she said.

Each community care worker received four hours of training to deliver the falls prevention program.

The intervention to 29 clients involved a mix of balance and strength exercises to improve lower body strength and balance and reduce falls.

On average clients completed the exercises 4.8 days per week.

“Support workers generally saw clients fortnightly, yet clients completed the exercises around four times a week, showing it was possible for this population to participate in a falls prevention exercise program without continual supervision,” the research paper said.

Support workers reported enjoying the additional responsibilities and seeing changes in their clients, the study found.

Dr Burton said the feasibility study aimed to address the declining number of community care clients taking part in falls prevention programs, as reported by Community Care Review.

She said further research was needed to determine whether the delivery of falls prevention exercise programs reduced the rate of falls among community care clients.

Read the study in full here.

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