Stephanie Clare is the Chief Executive of Age Concern New Zealand. Age Concern is a charitable organisation dedicated solely to people over 65.
They promote dignity, wellbeing, equity and respect and provide expert information and support services in response to older people’s needs. Age Concern are active and vocal on relevant issues and work to ensure older people stay connected with their family, friends and community.
Stephanie’s 30 years of nursing experience provides a strong background for working with clients, families and understanding the community.
Steady as You Go: An evidence-based approach to community falls prevention
Age Concern New Zealand’s role in providing national coverage for an evidence based health promotion project that improves the lives of older New Zealanders.
Falls are common in older adults and are a major concern for individuals and health care funders. The consequences following a fall can be detrimental to an older person’s health; falls may result not only in physical injury, but can also lead to psychological costs (e.g. loss of confidence, decreased quality of life, or fear of falling), potentially resulting in loss of independence and early admission to residential care. Interventions addressing strength and balance have been shown to be effective in fall prevention.
Steady As You Go (SAYGO) is a community-based falls prevention exercise class developed by Age Concern. It has been operating since 2003, and there will be 229 classes operating throughout New Zealand by June 2018.
Previous research has shown that SAYGo reduces falls incidence and severity, and leads to improvements in balance, leg strength, flexibility, general fitness, and overall wellbeing. SAYGo has a strong culture of ongoing evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the programme for each participant.
SAYGo operates on a sustainable community development model. The programme is delivered in a community setting on a weekly basis for 10 weeks by a trained instructor. Following the initial 10 weeks, a potential Peer Leader from the group is identified and approached to continue and lead the class. Peer Leaders are then attend training that focuses on understanding that falls are a major public health problem for older people, recognising the risk factors leading to falls, recognition of which factors have the potential to be modified, and the importance of long-term exercise. Additionally, prospective peer-leaders are taught to develop observational skills to ensure safety and correct performance of the programme, how to hold the classes, what exercises to do, and how to administer those exercises. This means ownership of the group is passed directly to the community members, with Age Concern supporting the classes as needed.
Recently we have focused on increasing engagement in SAYGo programmes in indigenous Maori, ethnic minority, immigrant, and refugee communities. This has meant developing strong relationships with key stakeholders, both organisations and community leaders and change makers, developing resources that are appropriate to bridge language and cultural barriers, and fostering a more flexible approach to facilitation to respect non-Pakeha worldviews and models of health.