A Team Effort: Interprofessional Collaboration in Fall Prevention Programs for Elderly Persons

With an aging population and rising costs of healthcare in Canada, it is important to investigate safe and effective solutions for minimizing the effect of major contributors to morbidity, mortality, and decreased quality of life and functional capacity of frail and elderly persons. This brief article reviews the advantages of healthcare practitioners of different backgrounds working together to deliver fall prevention programs, and how you as a patient - or as a family member or advocate for someone at risk of falls - can get involved to join such a program to stay active, healthy, and reduce the risk of a fall.


Falls are a major contributor to these negative outcomes for persons that suffer a fall, as well as the downstream effects on the healthcare system at large. It is arguable that due to their devastating effects - such as injuries, pain, the need for hospitalization, and decreased quality of life, falls constitute a public health concern. Fall prevention programs are an effective solution that are targeted mainly at elderly and frail persons - who may be living at home, in a rehabilitation centre, or a long term care residence - since this population represents those who are most likely to be affected by falls. There are many factors that contribute to the cause of falls in this vulnerable population, and include environmental factors; personal physiological age-related changes in balance, proprioception, reaction time; pathological changes in cognition, neurological or musculoskeletal conditions, and many more risk factors. This multifactorial etiology of falls demands multiple healthcare professionals of different disciplines bringing together their varied and diverse strengths and expertise towards the common goal of preventing falls in elderly persons.


An “interdisciplinary” or “interprofessional” team approach for fall prevention means that various healthcare professionals are working synergistically to optimally organize, design, and deliver fall prevention programs for the persons and communities they serve. A team approach would ideally combine the competencies and expertise of a variety of healthcare practitioners who are most likely to be working with this at-risk population, such as physicians (including family doctors, geriatricians, sports medicine specialists, physiatrists, and more), physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, pharmacists, and dieticians. By working together, these healthcare professionals can collaborate to deliver “dynamic, holistic, and feasible” programs that improve healthcare outcomes for frail older adults at risk of falls.


If you are concerned about your risk of falling, or if you are a family member of or advocate for someone who is at increased risk of suffering falls, it is easy and accessible to join an interdisciplinary fall prevention program and see if it’s right for you - even from the comfort of your own home through tele-health conferencing. Please visit WePreventFalls.com to learn more about how an interdisciplinary program can help you reduce falls, and also to view structured exercise videos, read helpful articles, and get involved in a customized and safe physical activity program.


References


Baxter, P., & Markle-Reid, M. (2009). An interprofessional team approach to fall prevention for older home care clients ‘at risk’ of falling: Health care providers share their experiences. International Journal of Integrated Care, 9(2). doi:10.5334/ijic.317


Bernocchi, P., Giordano, A., Pintavalle, G., Galli, T., Spoglia, E. B., Baratti, D., & Scalvini, S. (2019). Feasibility and Clinical Efficacy of a Multidisciplinary Home-Telehealth Program to Prevent Falls in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American


Medical Directors Association, 20(3), 340-346. doi:10.1016/j.jamda.2018.09.003

Ungar A, Rafanelli M, Iacomelli I, Brunetti MA, Ceccofiglio A, Tesi F, et al. (2013). Fall prevention in the elderly. Clinical Cases in Mineral & Bone Metabolism, 10(2), 91-5.


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