$1.5M Grant to Keep Older Australians on Their Feet

April 15th, 2013


Western Australian researchers will take part in a $1.5 million trial aimed at preventing secondary falls in older Australians.

Falls are a leading cause for presentation to emergency departments by older patients, with more than 83,000 Australians aged 65 and over hospitalised following falls in 2010. Figures show more than 50 per cent of those people are back at hospital after another fall within six months. Falls may lead to serious injury, even death, and are associated with large annual healthcare costs.

The RESPOND falls prevention project will connect patients with proven fall-prevention strategies and help them access services such as vision and medication assessments and exercise programs.

"We know these strategies work - it's just a question of increasing patient participation," says Associate Professor Glenn Arendts, an emergency medicine specialist and RESPOND collaborator.

Two centres within the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research will run the project in WA: The WA Centre for Health and Ageing (WACHA) and the Centre for Clinical Research in Emergency Medicine (CCREM).

The project, led by Monash University and involving health partners across Victoria and Western Australia, was one of 11 to receive a chunk of $7.9 million in health research funding announced last week by Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.

It brings together some of the country's leading experts on falls, including physiotherapists, geriatric and emergency medicine specialists, epidemiologists and psychologists.

Associate Professor Arendts, an emergency medicine specialist with UWA's Centre for Medical Research and the Perkins said sharp rises in demand for Emergency Department services were being disproportionately driven by older people.

"This collaboration promises to make a difference to many people's lives by reducing fall injury, at the same time relieving some pressure on our emergency departments," he said.

The funding is part of the Partnership Project, a scheme which encourages alliances between government and non-government health bodies and researchers to improve health and wellbeing. The major WA partner in RESPOND is the Western Australian Department of Health through its Research Development Unit, Health Networks and Aged and Continuing Care.

Other RESPOND partners include UWA, Monash, Curtin and Notre Dame Universities; Royal Perth, Sir Charles Gairdner and Alfred hospitals; the Injury Control Council of Western Australia; the RPH Medical Research Foundation and the George Institute for Global Health.

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