September 18, 2021

Bingara MPS was recently successful in winning the HNELHD Excellence Award for Keeping People Healthy. The Quality Improvement Program ‘Time to Break the Drought – Using Water to Prevent Falls in Rural Communities’ was developed and implemented by the MPS team of Sue Mack, Suzie Bilsborough and Megan Latham last summer.

The Award reflects the NSW Health’s commitment to promoting good health through raising awareness of healthy choices, preventing ill health and improving the overall health and wellbeing of the community.

Bingara MPS Award Winning Program for keeping people healthy.

The Bingara community has a high proportion of its population over 65 years of age, 39.3% as compared to NSW with 16.2 %, (2016 Census). On average a fall from the community would be brought into Bingara emergency department every eight days.

Following a literature search, it was deemed that water-based exercise programs were beneficial and resulted in positive outcomes for participants with improved muscle strength, gait, balance and over reduction in falls risk. Water is an ideal medium for older persons exercise, as an unstable environment constantly challenges the body to reposition and re-posture, to maintain balance and to strengthen muscle mass whilst creating a safe environment to exercise as it reduces fear of falling and pain associated with exercising. Other studies showed a significant improvement in overall quality of life, physical fitness, mental health and reduced social isolation.

Bingara MPS invested funds into training Megan Latham to achieve Accredited Aqua Exercise Trainer certification and referrals for the program were sourced from Community Health and the emergency department, with participants either having previous fall or being at high risk for a fall.

The program was originally organised as a 12 week/twice a week program, but due to pool renovations and COVID, it was reduced to six weeks with 12 participants.

The participants were measured pre–program for strength, gait and balance and again Post–Program. On average across the assessment, an improvement of over 30% could be demonstrated. Some participants reduced their falls risk from high to not at risk. A survey that was distributed to all participants indicated that they had experienced improvements in not only their physical health but mentally and socially as well.

The program will continue next summer. If you or anyone you know may benefit from this program, please register your interest with Community Health 02 6728 0100.

As a winner of the Hunter New England Local Health District Awards, the Bingara Program has the opportunity to be submitted to the NSW Health Excellence Awards.

‘Using Water to Prevent Falls’ participants were measured to have improved physical and mental health after completing the program.’