By Marguerite Thomas
As caregivers, fall prevention is a serious issue for both our loved ones and for us. Spoiler alert: the fall prevention information being shared is from the coordinator of the Fall Prevention Community of Practice (CoP), who also is a senior and was a caregiver for the past ten years. Through the CoP, the goal of this and upcoming articles is to share resources, to promote links to helpful groups and organizations and to provide in-depth information on caregiver specific fall prevention topics. The first and ongoing resource is the Fall Prevention Community of Practice and what it offers at no cost through LooP, the online communication platform www.fallsloop.com Caregivers are invited to join Loop and can form private groups and workspaces for specific issues. Added benefits include invitations to the free upcoming webinars as well as access to preview webinars.
The vision of the Fall Prevention CoP is to create supportive communities in Ontario where adults enjoy quality of life and maintain their independence through the prevention of falls. Effective fall prevention practice requires participation of older adults themselves, the general community, and health care workers from many sectors.
A Community of Practice is simply a group of people who come together to share a common interest. CoP members make a commitment to support and learn from one another, particularly across the continuum of care, from the healthy older adult to the frail elderly across disciplines and perspectives for improved practice, policy and research.
In 2015, a Canadian partnership formed to promote November as Fall Prevention month. The ongoing theme is “It takes a community to prevent a fall – we all have a role to play”. The focus is on “all” which could mean a senior, caregiver, health care worker, researcher, decision maker, builder, planner, municipal representative or a building designer.
In November 2015, 109 organizations were involved in Fall Prevention Month initiatives which included conferences, presentations, health fairs, webinars, and fitness activities, which targeted older adults and health care practitioners. In 2016, the partnership created the bilingual website http://fallpreventionmonth.ca/. Fall prevention resources available in the November 2016 Toolkit included information for older adults and caregivers as well as sections for health care workers including promotion & media; sample activities for November; practitioner resources; ongoing programs and interventions; statistics and infographics; and evaluation.
The section for older adults and caregivers also includes links to Finding Balance Canada. This site originated in Alberta and other provinces have joined in, including Finding Balance Ontario. Check out the resources from various provinces at www.findingbalanceontario
Fall prevention requires multiple strategies and methods of information sharing, such as offered via the Loop communication platform www.fallsloop.com created in September 2015. Help is readily available and accessible and comes at no cost. Sponsored by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF), www.onf.org, Loop has over 1400 members who connect electronically to work together, share mini-newsletters, webinars and library services. Loop brings together a variety of members from hospital, long term care and the community to provide updates on research, hands-on practices and resources, to identify learning needs, to share success stories, to plan educational events and initiatives and to share effective implementation strategies.
While caregivers can benefit from caregiver specific information, there are many generic resources that will also be helpful. An example is viewing the archived webinars via the Seniors Health Knowledge Network YouTube videos. https://www.youtube.com/user/SHKNetwork. Recent topics include Naturopathic Approaches to Fall Prevention; SAIL Fall Prevention Program for First Nations; Substance Use Disorders in Older Adults; and Step Well, Stay on Your Feet. A March 15th noon webinar of special interest is Practical Advice for Caring Safely: The ergonomics of providing care for a frail older adult. When you join Loop, an invitation is sent to your email so that you can participate live from your home computer. Please consider inviting other caregivers to join you.
What are your greatest needs as caregiver? The CoP has access to a variety of topic specific experts and links to helpful organizations. Potential subjects could include dementia, vision, resource organizations, bathroom design, footwear and exercises. What would you like to see the CoP present in upcoming columns? For further information, please visit www.fallsloop.com or contact the coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Marguerite Thomas, RN., BScN., is the Coordinator, Fall Prevention Community of Practice and a
Consultant, Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation.