A West Australian local council and a metropolitan health service have partnered in an award-winning community falls prevention program.
City of Kwinana and the South Metropolitan Health Service have been delivering workshops to prevent falls and fall-related injuries, which are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation for people aged 45 and over in the community.
Kwinana community development officer Jessie Burke, who oversees the program, says the initiative is based on education and behaviour change, and taps into the expertise of local health professionals including and exercise physiologist, a nutritionist and pharmacists.
Support and education
Funded by a grant from the injury prevention organisation Injury Matters in 2020, Kwinana has held three two-hour workshops over the last 12 months, including one that specifically targeted older Indigenous members of the community.
About 77 people have attended so far.
“The aim is to give community members the opportunity to come along to a convenient venue and we give them support and education,” she told Community Care Review.
“They get a talk about nutrition, then we do some age-appropriate exercises and stretching and education about falling, and then the pharmacist talks about getting medications checked to make sure that you taking things that aren’t going to be making you drowsy or dizzy, or be conscious of what you’re taking.
The outcomes have been positive, Ms Burke says.
Before attending the workshops, 47 per cent of participants said they didn’t do strength and balancing exercises on most days. Afterwards, 88 per cent said they’d be confident to add the exercises to their daily routine.
Meanwhile 86 per cent said they felt confident to speak with a pharmacist about a medication review after the workshops and 64 per cent of the Indigenous participants booked in for a medicine check on the spot after their workshop.
Ms Burke says figures indicating that 75 per cent of participants were interested in attending future fall prevention initiatives has resulted in Council planning more, funded either via grants or from the City budget.
“Based on that 75 per cent of interest and the success of our three workshops so far I know that it’s worth spending the funds on running more workshops in the future,” she says.
A job for local government
Injury prevention is also part of the City’s public health plan and a key action area for a more active Kwinana, Ms Burke says.
“I see our role as making public health and injury prevention a space that is accessible at a very low cost for our community members,” she said.
“So if there’s not a service provider that already provides health initiatives like this, that’s where the local government can step in.
“I would love to see it as a permanent fixture.”
The Kwinana Falls Prevent Project was recognised earlier this year at the Injury Matters Injury Prevent and Safety Promotion Awards where it received an award for Outstanding Achievement by a Local Government in Injury Prevention or Recovery Support.
It’s the first time the awards have included a category dedicated to local government.
Injury Matters says the Kwinana initiative is an example of the positive impact a grassroots program can have in the community.
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