Yarning about fall prevention: community consultation to discuss falls and appropriate approaches to fall prevention with older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Turner, Norma Jean
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Background Fall related injury is an emerging issue for older Indigenous people worldwide, yet few targeted fall prevention programs are currently available for Indigenous populations. In order to inform the development of a new Aboriginal-specific fall prevention program in Australia, we conducted community consultation with older Aboriginal people to identify perceptions and beliefs about falls, and to identify desired program elements. Methods Yarning Circles were held with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 45 years and over. Each Yarning Circle was facilitated by an Aboriginal researcher who incorporated six indicative questions into each discussion. Questions explored the impact of falls on Yarning Circle participants, their current use of fall prevention services and investigated Yarning Circle participant’s preferences regarding the design and mode of delivery of a fall prevention program. Results A total of 76 older Aboriginal people participated in ten Yarning Circles across six sites in the state of New South Wales. Participants associated falls with physical disability, a loss of emotional well-being and loss of connection to family and community. Many participants did not use existing fall prevention services due to a lack of availability in their area, having no referral provided by their GP and/or being unaware of fall prevention programs in general. Program elements identified as important by participants were that it be Aboriginal-specific, group-based, and on-going, with the flexibility to be tailored to specific communities, with free transport provided to and from the program. Conclusions Older Aboriginal people reported falls to be a priority health issue, with a significant impact on their health and well-being. Few older Aboriginal people accessed prevention programs, suggesting there is an important need for targeted Aboriginal-specific programs. A number of important program elements were identified which if incorporated into prevention programs, may help to address the rising burden of falls.