An innovative Falls Improvement Program which identifies and implements evidence-based strategies in falls prevention to reduce fall rates, better support aged care residents, and improve overall knowledge gaps has won a national award.
Brightwater’s Falls Improvement Program Team was recognised at the 2022 HESTA Excellence Awards on 24 November.
The team was recognised alongside seven organisations or teams who have excelled in the disability, allied health, aged care and community services sectors.
Brightwater’s Chief Executive Officer, Catherine Stoddart, said winning a HESTA award meant so much to everyone at Brightwater.
“This award is an acknowledgement of the wonderful work our staff do every day to ensure we can support our residents to continue to be independent and live well,” she said.
“We are incredibly proud of the entire Falls Improvement Team. It is led by Chelsea Rudd – who is one of our amazing Physiotherapists – and over the past 12 months, the team has made a number of changes.
“They have also put in place a very successful program to ensure every part of the business has a focus on falls prevention – which we know is one of the biggest issues in older Australians.”
The Falls Improvement Program provides ongoing support and education to increase prevention awareness and includes professional development and educational sessions for staff to minimise risks and hazards.
The team also introduced weekly exercise sessions for residents to help prevent falls and hosted Zoom Chair Yoga sessions every weekday during Falls Month in April 2022.
Within six months of launch, the program contributed to an impressive a 28 per percent decline in fall rates at several of the Brightwater Care Group homes.
“To put falls prevention in the spotlight through this award we hope will trigger a cultural shift in the wider health sector as we have shown that falls in older Australians are preventable,” Ms Stoddart said.
“The prize money will enable us to take this program even further including to provide further training for our Therapy Assistants to continue to develop their skills and expand their knowledge in exercises that they can complete within the home, such as chair dancing.
“By equipping our Therapy Assistants, it means they will have a handy portfolio of exercises that they can complete with their residents on site to ensure there is continual adjustment in the program."
The prize money will also be used to purchase more equipment for our residents. This includes new exercise equipment such as boxing gloves and mitts, so they’re able to complete seated boxing and more appropriate chairs for chair yoga.
Expanding Falls Education to Brightwater at Home
Part of our award-winning HESTA application acknowledged not only our work in Residential Aged Care, but the expansion of our program with our Brightwater at Home clients.
The very first Brightwater at Home Falls community group ran for 10 weeks with wonderful success. This prevention exercise program called ‘Instinct’ uses functional movement, strength and balance training, and multidisciplinary education to reach at risk clients at home.
About the program
In the ageing population falls have previously been considered a normal part of getting older. However, this perception has slowly started to shift over the past 10 years.
The Brightwater Falls Improvement Program aimed to not only benefit our clients and reduce their risk of falls but also to better empower our staff in falls prevention.
Over the course of this program, we have seen our residents engage in new activities such as chair yoga, chair dancing and Tai Chi, which has created many smiles and brought joy. Our Therapy Assistants have also developed new skills and confidence in falls prevention.
Ms Stoddart added: "This is the most rewarding aspect of the program. Watching our residents and staff grow together and develop new skills in order to achieve the common goal of reducing preventable falls amongst our residents.”
Photo credit: HESTA