The Iron Bark Project: Falls prevention in older Aboriginal people in NSW

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Our group has established that falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation in older Aboriginal people in NSW and contribute to a significant number of deaths each year.

Despite this high burden of falls, no studies to date have examined the effectiveness of existing mainstream falls prevention interventions when used with Aboriginal populations. Furthermore, the acceptability of these interventions to Aboriginal people and the feasibility of providing them within existing Aboriginal services are not known.

Through the analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health data, the nature of risk factors leading to falls and the burden of resulting injury are being investigated and compared to that of the general Australian population.

Through consultation with Aboriginal community groups, service providers working in Aboriginal aged care, and senior academics specialising in falls prevention, The Ironbark Aboriginal Falls Prevention Program has been developed. The Ironbark Program couples gentle exercises that challenge participant strength and balance, with a weekly yarning session focused on different falls risk factors. We anticipate the program will improve participant strength, balance and mobility, increasing their confidence in performing daily tasks and help them in maintaining their independence.

The program will be trialled for a 6 month period at 3 sites in NSW. It will be evaluated to determine its effectiveness and appropriateness for the older Aboriginal community.

All aspects of the project are overseen by an Aboriginal steering committee. Partnerships with Aboriginal Medical Services, Medicare Locals and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations are a central part to project development and implementation.

Project Team