The evaluation of a strength and balance exercise program for falls prevention in community primary care
Hawley-Hague, H.; Roden, A.; Abbott, J.
PhysioTherapy Theory and Practice 33(8): 611-621
ISSN/ISBN: 0959-3985 PMID: 28590815 DOI: 10.1080/09593985.2017.1328721
We aimed to evaluate a strength and balance program delivered in the community. There is little evidence of implementation of evidence-based exercise in practice. The program was a step-down model, designed to encourage long-term exercise in community classes. The program consisted of a fully funded referral only evidence-based 12-week strength and balance (Community Otago) class, followed by an evidence-based continuous open-access community strength and balance class (Active Always). The program was offered to patients: 1) after formal falls rehabilitation (falls and fracture service); 2) after falls rehabilitation in intermediate care; and 3) referred by a GP who were not eligible for rehabilitation (preventative measure). Outcome evaluation used descriptive statistics to report changes in function, confidence in balance, hospital attendance/admission for falls/fractures and transition to community classes. Focus groups established participant experience/satisfaction. Seventy-nine participants were included, aged 56-96, and 53 (67%) were women. About 63.3% of patients transitioned to Active Always classes, demonstrating improvement in maintenance. Follow-up scores from baseline attendance at falls and fracture service to 12-weeks follow-up (24 weeks) in Community Otago showed the majority of patients improved their function (Timed up and Go), confidence (ConfBal) and lowered their falls risk (Tinetti). Follow-up of participants from Community Otago baseline to the end of 12-weeks showed improvement in function and confidence, but only a third of participants lowered their falls risk. Focus groups data suggest that continuity of delivery, the role of the instructor, health professional, and social and physical outcomes were essential for maintenance. A supportive environment can be created which encourages older adults' continued participation in group-based strength and balance, helping the delivery of evidence-based practice.