The Ironbark Project: Falls prevention in older Aboriginal people in NSW
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 whether existing mainstream falls prevention interventions are effective or acceptable for use with Aboriginal populations. Furthermore, the feasibility of providing them within existing Aboriginal services is not known.
Through the analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health data, the 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 fall prevention specialists, The Ironbark Aboriginal Falls Prevention Program has been developed. The Ironbark Program couples gentle exercises that improve participant strength and balance, with an education session held within yarning circles. We anticipate the program will improve participant strength, balance and mobility, increasing participant confidence in performing daily tasks and helping maintain independence.
The program will be trialled for a six month period at six 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.