Background: Group-based fall-prevention exercise programs reduce the rate of falls amongst community-dwelling older adults. Participants in our local falls program improved their balance performance upon completion, but these benefits were lost after a 6-month follow-up. The goal of this study is to test the efficiency of ‘Sustain and Gain’, a pilot program designed to continue the improvement in balance performance in graduates of the fall program.
Methods: The ‘Sustain and Gain’ program was developed in two phases. Phase I (developing the maintenance program) used an experienced-based co-design that included 11 participants, their care partners and members of the research team. Phase II (implementation and evaluation) used a mixed methodology that included: quantitative analysis to measure the participants’ physical outcomes (Timed Up and Go, 2-minute walk test, Berg Balance Scale) and quality of life (Older Peoples’ Quality of Life Questionnaire) measured at baseline, 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months, as well as a qualitative analysis to gain a deeper understanding of participants’ experience and their satisfaction with the program.
Results: Preliminary results of 18 participants demonstrate an overall improvement in balance performance, and initial qualitative analyses demonstrate positive feedback about the program. Implementation of the program was completed on Dec 31st 2019.
Discussion: The ‘Sustain and Gain’ program may continue the improvement of balance performance of frail older adults. The positive social and psychological outcomes expressed by the participant’s further support the benefit of the program.