Community Healthcare | Health & Healthcare

Falls prevention: Don’t use the ‘f-word’

28 Jul 2015, by Informa Australia

Source: HOSPITAL & AGEDCARE  22 Jul 2015

By Yasmin Noone, Editor, H&A

How often do you mention the ‘f-word’ when speaking to seniors – aged care residents, physiotherapy clients and hospital patients – who have just had a fall?

How often, after a person’s discharge from hospital or during rehabilitation, do you stress they must avoid and prevent another fall?

Senior neurological physiotherapist at Epworth Rehabilitation, Dr Nataliya Shkuratova, says professionals in the sector are overusing the word ‘falls’ in the treatment and rehabilitation of injured seniors.

She wants health and aged care professionals to realise the impact of their words when treating an older person and avoid constantly stressing ‘falling’, as negative language can reinforce fear and deteriorate a senior’s control over their balancing abilities.

The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation Churchill Fellow (Health and Medicine) explains that during her travels she discovered that England’s medical profession encourages terms like ‘balance training’ in place of ‘falls prevention’ to empower older people using positive language. Dr Shkuratova now wants Australia to follow suit.

She says carefully chosen phrases that encourage older people could also decrease an individual’s fear fear around falling, which studies show could improve confidence and avoid a fall.

But how do you ignore the ‘f-word’ when that is the cause of a person’s injury? Dr Shkuratova answers this question in an exclusive H&A podcast.

Listen to the podcast HERE.

Dr Shkuratova’s comments also detail common mistakes professionals are making, when it comes to improving an older person’s balance.

“There are lots of exercises that include strength training. Yes, it is very important as you can’t train someone’s balance without strength training, as strength training is a very big component of structural adjustment.

“But if you don’t include task-specific and functional exercises like walking, turning and picking up something from the ground, you can’t really address the different dimensions of balance.

“And if you think you can only train people using exercises while standing and sitting, and then expect that the person will go out in the street and not trip or fall, that is a big mistake.”


Dr Shkuratova will deliver the opening address on new ways to develop and deliver multidisciplinary falls prevention at the Falls, Fractures & Pressure Injuries Management Conference from 31 August to 2 September at Pullman Melbourne on the Park in Melbourne.

She will discuss:

  • Protecting older Australians from falls after discharge from hospital
  • Exercise programs for falls management
  • Strategies for translation and implementation of falls prevention research evidence into practice
  • Older people’s perceptions and uptake of falls prevention interventions
  • Recommendations

H&A is a media partner of the conference, presented by Informa.

The annual event will be streamlined into three consecutive one day programs addressing the theme of improving patient safety and preventing the risk of falls, fractures and pressure injuries.

More information about the conference.

Source: HOSPITAL & AGEDCARE

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