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Positive impact of falls pathway acknowledged one year after launch

3 May 2024

April No Falls is a national campaign to educate and raise awareness of falls prevention and help those at risk of falling to stay on their feet.

It’s an important message for all Metro South staff, but the Older Adult Mental Health team decided to take the campaign one step further with a new falls pathway, and the results speak for themselves. 

The pathway was implemented during April No Falls 2023, which Clinical Director Dr Shirlony Morgan said reflects the unit’s commitment to quality improvement.

“We created a pathway that enables our clinicians to better identify those at risk of falls using a simple step by step process and evidence-based tools. Based on the falls risk identified, the pathways direct the clinicians to the resources available locally. 

“It has also meant we are more proactive with directing our patients to interventions such as exercise physiology and dietetics which can be effectively used to address the strongest modifiable risk factors, reduced strength, balance, and nutrition.

“Historically, health services, ours included, have delivered interventions using disease-based models but as we acknowledged the significant multimorbidity burden our patients face, we have to adapt our models of care to encompass all aspects of health. 

“In mental health, to truly deliver person-centred healthcare, we know we have to improve our recognition of the physical health conditions that are contributing to this burden,” said Dr Morgan.

Six months after the pathway was introduced there was an 83 per cent increase in referrals to exercise physiology compared to the six months prior. Over the last 12 months, more than 20 older adults have accessed exercise physiology.

While the data demonstrates the demand for exercise physiology, Dr Morgan said the real impact has been highlighted by personal stories of the quality care provided. 

“For one of our patients with a high falls risk, this clinic has been lifesaving. At her first exercise physiology appointment she reported being short of breath during minor physical activities. 

“After an examination which indicated low oxygen saturation, her case manager accompanied her to an urgent GP appointment and within the week she had a pacemaker inserted. She is doing well and grateful to the team for their thorough assessment and intervention.”

To mark one year of the pathway, the Older Adult Mental Health team has developed a new information leaflet on falls prevention for patients.

Mental health case managers are continuing to support patients to work through an action plan to address many other contributing factors to prevent falls and re-enforce the important message of maintaining good physical health. 

Last updated 3 May 2024
Last reviewed 3 May 2024

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