March 28, 2023

We Are Northern: This is the Falls and Balance Service team

Northern Health’s Falls and Balance Service (FABS) is located in Bundoora Centre. It provides a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary assessment for people in the community who have experienced falls.

The FABS clinic is a diagnostic service and aims to identify the intrinsic and extrinsic factors contributing to a person’s falls. The team advises of appropriate management to further reduce falls and or fear of falls. The clinic has an Allied Health stream of Physiotherapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT), who provide falls assessment and interventions to those clients who do not meet the clinic criteria. The aim of this stream is to address any urgent issues and determine if the client requires follow up in the clinic.

The FABS consists of a Geriatrician, Registrar, Physiotherapist Gd3, Physiotherapist Gd1 and Occupational therapist. On the initial FABS appointment, the patient is seen by the Dr, PT and OT in the one morning. Secondary referrals are often made to the Podiatrist and/or Psychologist.

Patients who attend the clinic stream are provided with a patient-centred falls plan called a ‘Risk and Recommendation’ letter. The letter lists all the identified issues contributing to the patient’s risk of falls and strategies to manage these risks. From the clinic, clients might be referred on for further one-on-one therapy in a centre or home based.

“We also run a ‘Balance Boost’ group which is based on the Kitchen Table Exercise program. During this program, the patient’s complete exercises close to benches, tables and chairs – simulating a home environment. The program is aimed at improving components of balance and strength and runs for eight weeks at both Bundoora Centre and Broadmeadows Hospital,” said Community Therapy Service, Clinical Coordinator, Nicky Tully.

During the pandemic, the FABS team experienced challenges due to reduced number of staff and clinicians being allocated to other areas. As restrictions began to ease, the team started completing joint initial assessments over the phone. These assessments addressed any urgent issues patients might had and referrals to other services.

Moving forward, the team is excited to fully implement and utilise the self-assessment form created for patients to complete prior to their clinic appointment. This form will gather information on patient’s falls history and identify risks, frailty assessment and falls efficacy scale. The team will be introducing a phone call prior to clinic to complete the form with the client and an Allied health assistant. The main purpose of this form will be to improve the patient’s experience within the clinic by reducing repetition of questions related to falls.

As we approach April Falls Day on Monday, 3 April – a national initiative to raise awareness to the serious issue of falls and harm resulting from falls, the FABS team would like to remind staff of the important role we can all play to reduce falls with our patients.

Associate Director Allied Health and Chair of Falls Committee, Uyen Phan, explained the importance of minimising falls.

“Falls are everyone’s responsibility. Hospital falls and harm from falls is a serious issue facing all health services and can result in poorer health outcomes to patients and their carers, including pain, dysfunction, fear and anxiety of further falls. Falls can also increase hospital length of stay and greater health resource utilisation,” he said.

“Northern Health is running the April Falls week campaign again this year to raise awareness and reinforce that we all have a role to play in reducing falls. Look out for our display stand in the front foyer at each site on Monday 3 April, daily ward huddle messages and a falls quiz with a $100 gift voucher to be won!”

Thank you to our FABS team for keeping our patients safe and balanced!

Pictured: FABS team