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Queensland Stay On Your Feet® - Toolkit Phase 2 Roles and Responsibilities

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Roles and Responsibilities

Partnerships allow falls prevention interventions and messages to be integrated into other health promotion programs aimed at older people, such as chronic disease prevention, physical activity and nutrition strategies [76].

There are a number of people and organisations, known as key stakeholders, who have a role and responsibility in falls prevention and healthy active ageing [1].

Falls prevention cannot be effective if key stakeholders who work with older people continue to work in isolation [76]. Greater coordination, integration and communication systems need to be developed to improve information sharing about and between services for older people.

Roles and responsibilities of those working with older people

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has developed a table of roles and responsibilities for people working with older people who have fallen. The table is based on a report by the United Kingdom of Health Accidental Injury Task Force Working Group on Older People.

Research has defined the roles and responsibilities for those who work with older people, including:

  • health professionals
  • local government, business and community organisations
  • family, friends and carers.

Health professionals

Generally, health professionals are the first point of contact an older person has with the health system. Primary care health providers have a number of critical roles to play to help reduce falls among older people including:

  • asking the question "Have you had a slip, trip or fall (even without an injury) in the last six months?"
  • reducing professional duplication by acknowledging the work of other professionals, for example: repeating a comprehensive falls risk assessment when another has been recently completed by another professional may waste time and money and cause frustration for the patient, when really only the gaps need to be addressed
  • working cohesively to provide prompt and appropriate treatment for older people by reducing professional demarcations and boundaries as these can negatively affect the access to services by older people
  • reducing conflicting advice given to older people by following up with other professionals before their interventions and recommendations are ignored
  • providing positive support and encouragement for older people to be physically active, for example: general practitioners can use the Life Scripts resource, all health professionals can refer older people to community based activity programs
  • when encouraging older people to be physical active, reassuring them that shortness of breath is a normal response to physical activity and not necessarily a symptom of disease
  • investigating and trying alternative options to prescribing psychoactive medications
  • for frail older people, encouraging physical activity within the constraints of their physical ability
  • optometrists need to provide falls prevention advice to older people when prescribing new glasses or changing their prescription, including additional education on the safe use of bifocal and multifocal glasses
  • expediting cataract surgery as a priority.

Local government, business and community organisations

Local government, businesses, the fitness industry and community organisations can look at ways to provide more physical activity options for older people at times and locations that are suitable. Transport departments, local government, businesses, service groups and community organisations also need to address the lack of available transport options for older people.

Family, friends and carers

Family, friends and carers can support an older person to become and stay active by encouraging their participation in physical activity programs. This may involve assisting with transport options, being positive and supporting them to continue their normal activities by not doing 'little' things for them unnecessarily.

Share and celebrate!

Sharing information about what has worked and what has not is critical to inform future work and help reduce the unnecessary use of limited resources. For more information on sharing key learnings and celebrating project achievements, see Phase 4 - Have we shared our experiences and celebrated?

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Last updated: 7 August 2012