The Fraser Coast Falls Prevention Service is helping to keep Hervey Bay seniors on their feet

Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN have published a media release about their new falls prevention initiative, which incorporates the Active at Home program to improve strength and balance of seniors in their region.

An exciting new café-based healthcare concept is helping Hervey Bay seniors, who have recently experienced a fall, regain their confidence and strength so they can get back, and stay, on their feet.
An initiative of the Fraser Coast Falls Prevention Service, the Lifestyle Café, which incorporates the Active at Home program, launched at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre this month for seniors
over 65 and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 50.

The Fraser Coast Falls Prevention Service is a collaboration between Central Queensland Wide Bay Sunshine Coast PHN, Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service, Queensland Ambulance Service and
Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre.

The PHN’s Manager for Older Person’s Health, Paige Martinez, said injuries resulting from falls are the major cause of death, hospitalisation, and emergency department presentations for those in the
target group.

“We’ve worked with our partners in the Fraser Coast Falls Prevention Service to co-design an initiative which incorporates a social aspect and establishes a pathway to reduce the risk of falls,” Ms
Martinez said.

Education programs that are purely falls prevention focussed tend to have a negative connotation- with the Lifestyle Cafe we are working from a wellness focus incorporating the Active at Home strength and balance program with other health & wellbeing activities. This means social connection opportunties through afternoon tea, group-based programs like choir singing or craft, and various entertainment each week.

Participants are referred into the Lifestyle Cafe via the newly established, WBHHS-led falls pathway by eligible referrers including WBHHS emergency departments, QAS or their general practitioner.
More than a quarter of people living on the Fraser Coast are aged over 65.

WBHHS Chief Executive Debbie Carroll said the purpose of the weekly, three-hour Lifestyle Café is to provide the Active at Home program in an informal setting and fills a gap in the community.
“This program gives older people who are at risk of falling access to the Active at Home strength and balance program, as well community support and social connection in one venue, with no cost to the participant,” Ms Carroll said.

“WBHHS is grateful to all of the partners who have made this collaborative venture possible and looks forward to the future development of the service.”

Participants who attended the recent launch of the Lifestyle Cafe with Active at Home said they enjoyed the friendly, relaxed and professional atmosphere and were keen to return for the full 12-week strength and balance program, alongside a cup of tea and some entertainment.

The PHN are proud to have further partnered with Carinity and Bolton Clarke to ensure quality delivery of the Lifestyle Café with Active at Home on an ongoing basis for at least the next 12 months.

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Bridgette’s new skills add variety and better support for Active at Home program participants

Centrecare support worker Bridgette Singh

IT was an intensive day of learning for Bridgette Singh when she completed the Active at Home training and assessment, but the Centacare support worker found every minute valuable.
She was among the first to take part in the new face-to-face training format and completed the training and assessments in one day, rather than self-paced online.

“It was great that we could actually go into the training rooms at Sports House, next to Suncorp Stadium,” she says. “We had a really good instructor who was very insightful but kept it light with a bit of humour, so it was always interesting.”

She’s now looking forward to using her new skills to improve the lives of her clients and has already identified four she believes will benefit from the program.

“One recently had three falls which left her really nervous and unsteady. Building up the strength in her legs and core will not only help her balance but will help her feel more confident,” she says. “It’s a gradual thing but I’m hoping this will give her the confidence to get moving again as it broke her heart to lose her mobility.”

The training means that Bridgette can broaden her skills beyond personal care, domestic assistance and social support and have the reward of seeing someone again be able to get up out of their chair and do a simple task like make a cup of tea.

She learnt different techniques to assess clients on their balance and mobility, and can now identify where they are at, so together they can set goals and monitor progress.

“It is good to understand people’s different ways of doing movements and at all different levels,” she says.

“We learnt how it can benefit our clients and to help them set goals so they feel like they have accomplished something, even if it is as small as walking a few metres more or walking a little more quickly.”

Aspiration to make work even more rewarding

A former airport security officer, Bridgette had to put aside her ambitions of becoming a support worker when life intervened.

After completing her Certificate III in Individual Support through TAFE, she was employed by Centacare and hasn’t looked back.

“Support work was something I wanted to do when I was younger but then I met my husband and we had a family and I had to work around the kids,” she says. “I had to wait for the opportunity to go and study and do what I wanted. I love it. It’s the best job I have ever had.”

And now the Active at Home program has added another string to her bow and, more importantly, is making her work even more rewarding.

Evidence based Active at Home program

Active at Home is an evidence-based program which includes basic strength and balance exercises, such as holding a kitchen bench while going up and down on tiptoes, or side stepping.
“These are not big movements but ones that, once you have the process, make a difference,” Bridgette says. “It’s about confidence as much as fitness and that’s where we play a big role. We can be positive and encouraging while providing a safety net.”

The first part of the course was about movement and things that could cause pain or stress, followed by explanations of the benefits and how it can improve and empower life and how to be a good instructor – the fundamentals of how to exercise correctly and safely.

It also covered how to support and encourage clients, which Bridgette believes plays a big part in success.

“We learnt how to talk them through the exercises and explain that we can start with small steps and then maybe just add one this week and two next week. These are not big exercises but getting the little things across.”

Exercises are simple and aimed at improving daily life – how to go from sit to stand, the basics of walking in a straight line, using things around you to keep you upright and stable such as running a hand along the wall.

These techniques start with little movements to gain stability and progress to doing it without the wall for support.

“It’s great when they realise they have done it on their own and say ‘I can do this’,” Bridgette says.
She recommends the course to all support workers, as it adds variety to the job and gives the reward of seeing clients reach their goals and get more out of daily life.

“The program gets people up and energised and they can develop the confidence to do more things for themselves. By regaining mobility, they regain independence and can really live life.”

Onfit Training College (RTO 32107) have been contracted by Active at Home for the delivery of the Nationally Accredited Unit of Competency: SISXCAI002 – Assist with activity sessions. Active at Home assist with the student recruitment & enrolment of students, on behalf of Onfit Training College.

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