Awardee: Dr Jacqueline Francis-Coad
Title of project: Co-designing and evaluating fall prevention education informed by community dwelling older people with dementia and their caregivers: A feasibility study
Year of completion: 2022
In 2020, Dr Jacqueline Francis-Coad received a Research Trust grant made available through the Hal Kendig Research Development Program. The overarching aim of her project was to assist community dwelling older people with dementia to take up safety messages for enactment in daily life to reduce their risk of falling. Jacqueline used a co-design approach which involved partnering with dyads of older people with dementia and their caregivers to develop a fall prevention education program for implementation in the home setting.
Participants welcomed the opportunity to share their thoughts and be involved in the research project. Practical resources developed from this project included laminated message cards, a video and a staff training guide. Participants liked the message card format containing rhyming safety messages that addressed the main risk factors for falls. Examples of the 16 cards include: ‘We’ll switch on a light if we get up at night’ and ‘Knowing our medications can avoid complications’. The video from the project is available online, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_4RZdPdGPc
Following the program, older people had a clear plan to help them stay safe and caregivers were less concerned about the older person they cared for falling, including when going to the toilet at night and getting in and out of a chair or bed. However, participants agreed that the program would be more useful and effective at an earlier stage, when dementia symptoms were less debilitating.
Overall, it was clear that it was feasible to co-design and evaluate a falls prevention education program with older people living with dementia, their caregivers and staff. Engagement with and action of safety messages clarified older peoples’ awareness of how to prevent falls and alleviated caregiver concerns.
Jacqueline is currently a senior research fellow at The University of Western Australia.