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Queensland Stay On Your Feet® - Toolkit Phase 1 Community readiness

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Assess readiness to take action

Community Readiness

If individuals are going to succeed in making positive change, it is important to recognise that the wider community also needs to be ready and able to encourage positive change. A supportive community environment is comprised of a range of features [1]:

  • social eg. nature of personal relationships, expectations of class, position, gender and age, level of access to knowledge and information
  • cultural eg. behaviours and attitudes considered acceptable in given contexts
  • ethical and spiritual eg. personal and shared values
  • legal eg. laws relating to what people can do, activities to encourage observance of those laws
  • political eg. systems of governance in which change will have to take place, access to public information. resources eg. what is actually required to make things happen (human, financial and material resources, and community knowledge and skills).

An adapted Transtheoretical Model [2] for community readiness to change (as it applies to falls prevention) is provided below:

Stage Characteristics
No awareness
  • Community or leaders do not generally recognize the issue of falls prevention as a problem
  • "It's just the way things are".
Denial
  • Little or no general recognition that this might be a local problem
  • Some recognition by some community members that the behavior itself is or can be a problem
  • Feeling that nothing needs to be done about it locally
  • "It's not our problem." "It's just those people who do that." "We can't do anything about it."
Vague awareness
  • General feeling among some community members that there is a local problem around falls in older people and that something ought to be done about it, but no immediate motivation to do anything
  • There may be stories or anecdotes about falls, but ideas about why the problem occurs and who has the problem tend to be stereotyped and/or vague.
Pre-planning
  • Clear recognition by some community members that there is a local falls problem and that something should be done about it
  • There are identifiable leaders, and there may even be a committee, but efforts are not focused or detailed.
Preparation
  • Planning is going on and focuses on practical details. There is general information about local falls problems and about the pros and cons of falls prevention activities, actions or policies, but it may not be based on formally collected data. Leadership is active and energetic
  • Decisions are being made about what will be done and who will do it. Resources (eg. people, money, time, space) are being actively sought or have been committed.
Initiation
  • Enough information is available to justify efforts (activities, actions or policies). A falls prevention activity or action has been started and is underway, but it is still viewed as a new effort. Staff are being training or have just finished training. There may be great enthusiasm among the leaders because limitations and problems have not yet been experienced.
Stabilization
  • One or two falls prevention programs or activities are running, supported by administrators or community decision-makers. Programs, activities or policies are viewed as stable. Staff are usually trained and experienced. There is little perceived need for change or expansion.
Confirmation/ expansion
  • There are standard falls prevention efforts (activities and policies) in place and authorities or community decision-makers support expanding or improving efforts. Community members appear comfortable in using efforts. Original efforts have been evaluated and modified and new efforts are being planned or tried in order to reach more people, those more at risk, or different demographic groups. Resources for new falls prevention efforts are being sought or committed. Data is regularly obtained on extent of local problems and efforts are made to assess risk factors and causes of the problem.
Professionalisation
  • Detailed and sophisticated knowledge of falls prevalence, risk factors and causes exists. Some prevention efforts may be aimed at general populations while others are targeted at specific falls risk factors and/or high-risk groups. Highly trained staff are running programs or activities, leaders are supportive, and community involvement is high.

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Research suggests there are five distinct stages [3] involved in new ideas or innovations being adopted at the community and population level:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Persuasion
  3. Decision
  4. Implementation
  5. Confirmation.

This research also found a number of other factors which helped increase the spread of new ideas within a community including complexity, ability to be observed, compatibility and relative advantage (ie. is the new innovation superior to the current way of doing things?) [1]. As a community based practitioner, you will need to be aware of these wider influences and seek to incorporate appropriate strategies into your work. New technologies such as social media offer new possibilities for harnessing the enthusiasm and "critical mass" required for community change.

Community readiness tool

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Last updated: 7 August 2012