Implementing an evidence-based exercise program to reduce falls in community-dwelling seniors


Executive sponsor:

  • Megan Oakey

Each year, 30% of seniors fall at least once, and half of those fall more than once. In fact, nine out of ten hip fractures result from falls.

Fortunately, falls are preventable. There is strong evidence that the Otago Exercise Program, which consists of strength and balance training, can reduce falls in this population. Seniors who have had a fall recently are the group most likely to benefit from the Otago program, but only 28% of people who start the program end up continuing with it over time.

It has recently been shown that exercise coaching with the use of consumer wearables, such as a Fitbit, is feasible and can help older people with chronic disease to stay active.

In this project, exercise coaching will be adapted for seniors who have had a recent fall, and then two visual feedback approaches will be tested for implementing the Otago Exercise Program within two BC health authorities – Fraser Health and Provincial Health Services Authority. The success of these approaches will be measured by the degree to which the coaching is delivered as intended by a provider, and the degree to which the exercise program is followed by seniors at 6 and 12 months.

Given the serious consequences, falls prevention is a high priority in BC. To this end, this team includes national leaders in falls prevention and implementation science, as well as health system partners and a prominent national patient group.