Fraser Coast Falls Prevention Service marks one year anniversary

A café-styled healthcare concept is helping senior Hervey Bay residents retain their independence and continue living their lives to the fullest.

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Photo by Matthias Zomer on

The Lifestyle Café – an initiative of the Fraser Coast Falls Prevention Service – celebrated its first birthday at The Tree House Urangan Community Wellness Centre in Hervey Bay yesterday.

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The initiative incorporates a social aspect and establishes pathways to reduce the risk of falls through strength and balance exercises and fun activities.

The Central Queensland Wide Bay Sunshine Coast PHN said injuries from falls are a major cause of hospitalisations, emergency department presentations and even death for our older community members.

PHN Manager for Older Person’s Health Paige Martinez said the Lifestyle Café provided an opportunity to do more than just highlight the risk of falls.

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“Education programs that are purely falls-prevention focused tend to have a negative connotation,” she said.

“With the Lifestyle Café we are working from a wellness focus, incorporating the strength and balance program with other health and well-being activities.”

After being referred to the program, residential aged care provider Bolton Clarke conducts a falls risk assessment of the home.

The Lifestyle Café then provides a weekly strength and balance program in an informal setting at The Tree House Urangan Community Wellness Centre.

Activities like painting, music, candle making and board games and puzzles are organised to keep participants socially active.

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While the service’s main focus is to reduce the risk of falling, it’s also geared towards keeping seniors connected and enhancing healthy aging.

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Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Nurse Navigator Kristen James said one in four people over the age of 65 falls at least once a year.

Putting this into perspective, Kristen said the Queensland Ambulance Service responded to 580 calls related to falls across the Wide Bay in August this year.

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She said the program has far-reaching benefits.

Some seniors are making new friends at the weekly meetings, while others have gotten their driver’s licences back and are going for regular walks along the Esplanade again.

Around 250 people have gone through the program since its inception last year.

To access the program, participants must be referred by their GP or the Queensland Ambulance Service.

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Jan Morton has been attending strength and balance exercise classes for six weeks after falling at home.

“I had a fall and fractured six vertebrae. My GP referred me because I’d lost my balance. I never knew there was such a program and it’s been absolutely marvelous – both physically and also emotionally, as I feel more confident,” she said.

“It’s also nice to socialise and we have beautiful morning tea, but it’s just so good on many different levels – especially emotionally. And we can all relate to each other.”

Edna Down was referred to the service by the Queensland Ambulance Service.

“After you fall you lose your confidence. I had two falls within three weeks.

“We do exercises to strengthen our arms and legs,” she said.

“I’ve been coming to the Lifestyle Café for eight weeks. We start our exercises slowly and build up from there.”

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Edna said after falling it was easy to feel isolated.

“Through the program you meet people who are in the same position as you and you get better together.”

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Debbie Carroll said they were grateful to all the partners who have made the service possible.

“This program gives older people who are at risk of falling access to coordinated, multidisciplinary care, as well as community support and social connection, with no cost to the participant,” she said.

“[We look] forward not only to the service continuing here, but expanding to Bundaberg early in the new year.”

The Lifestyle Cafe is supported by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.

The Fraser Coast Falls Prevention Service is a collaboration between Central Queensland Wide Bay Sunshine Coast PHN, Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service, Queensland Ambulance Service and the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre.

Click the link for more information on the Fraser Coast Falls Prevention Service.

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