Older people are more vulnerable to having falls, especially if they have a long- term health condition. However, balance and strength exercises can help to prevent falls and also builds older people’s confidence. As Dawn Skelton, Professor in Ageing and Health at Glasgow University, says “A significant proportion of disability associated with old age is a result of disuse not disease.”
Falls are a risk for the older people that mPower supports and in HSE CH01 (Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim) the local team actively helped project beneficiaries mitigate this risk by directing them towards the Ramelton Physical Therapy service which helps them build strength and the confidence to avoid falls. This referral was part of the Wellbeing Plans that the local Community Navigator worked with each beneficiary to develop, making it personal and relevant to them.
When the Covid pandemic struck, it curtailed the service users’ ability to attend classes in person. The service had to stop and the only option for continuing with this kind of therapy while lockdowns and other restrictions were in force was for a virtual service.
The Ramelton Physical Therapy service was not geared up to deliver a virtual service. Many of the HSE staff were deployed to tackle Covid, there was a lack of equipment and clinicians were unfamiliar with Video Enabled Care.
Having previously had experience pre-pandemic of setting up a Test of Change approach within CH08 and the Virtual Pulmonary Rehab clinic, the local mPower team stepped in to get a virtual service off the ground and the team worked on testing a new – Virtual Active Age class. The mPower team organised the provision of equipment with the HSE National Virtual Team, organised room set up, introduced the Attend Anywhere service for virtual clinics and organised the setting up of the HSE network in the clinical space so that connectivity was in place.
This Test of Change approach was shared with physiotherapists across the HSE CH01 area and as a result, Physiotherapists now have the option of a hybrid approach whereby classes can be delivered face to face and virtually.
This demonstrates how mPower has been key to changing the way services can be delivered. Users now have much more flexibility in the way they can engage with this therapy and the potential to support many more older people is now greater.