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Aussie invention set to prevent falls in Australia’s and UK’s aged care sector

The launch of new technology set to reduce number of falls and fractures of older people living at home

A world first technology-based program will combat the leading cause of hospitalisation in the aged care sector and greatly decrease economical spending of medical respondents across residential facilities.

Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and UNSW Sydney’s Associate Professor Kim Delbaere has developed the falls prevention app “StandingTall” to address the needs of correcting falls and balance in seniors living at home.

The app is a game-changer in rural areas as it can be delivered to simple in-house devices that will assist in preventing the need for emergency care.

“By embracing technology, we are providing an alternative exercise opportunity, which is engaging, fun and motivating, hoping to generate higher levels of adherence over a longer period of time,” Delbaere said.

As a recent recipient of an Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council grant (NHMRC), the StandingTall program is set to start trials both in Australia and in the UK. The implementation of the program has the support of NSW Local Health Districts in the North Coast and UnitingCare.

“It is exciting to see an Australian invention aimed at reducing falls and improving balance in older people starting an international journey, made possible by an NHMRC grant and support our partners,” Delbaere said.

The NSW Office of Preventative Health, Clinical Excellence Commission and Agency of Clinical Innovation are partners of the program, providing strategic advice to implement the app across national health settings. The program will also have the support of UK partner Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA).

“This international alliance understands the immense need to curb the rate of falls in seniors, which often leads to hip fractures and loss of independence resulting in greater costs for carers, communities, their families and loved ones,” Delbaere said.

Falls account for 14 per cent of all hospital admissions in the aged care sector and it is expected to cost the economy $1.13 billion by 2022. Around 50 per cent of people who fall and break their hip suffer mobility disability with half dying within 12 months.

The application includes over 2,000 exercises with video instructions and is designed for older people to use independently in their homes. It allows participants to choose when and for how long they exercise throughout the week.

Utilising an easy to deliver mobile technology platform, StandingTall has been designed to enable maintenance, updates, tailoring and exercise progressions to be updated online, while levels and challenges keep the participant engaged.

Chief Executive at NHSA, Dr Hakim Yadi, said, “There is nothing like this technology-lead tool in the world, and some of its most successful features is that the program StandingTall is easy to use, offers varied tailored options and progressively difficult exercises, and is compatible with existing fall prevention and self-management programs.

“We believe this innovative program offers huge potential in helping older people across the North which is why we’re delighted to be supporting its roll out in the region.”

The recent success of the NHMRC grant and the national NSW, VIC and international partnerships will see the final production elements finalised and rolled out to clinical practices to benefit the lives of the ageing population.

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