One Infinity Rehab team member shared her experience building the Otago Caregiver Training in her local area during the annual Age + Action conference in Washington D.C.

Organized by the National Council on Aging, Jessica “Kele” Murdin, Clinical Knowledge Broker at Infinity Rehab and board-certified clinical specialist in geriatric physical therapy, presented with Tiffany Shubert, a prominent leader in implementing the Otago Exercise Program in the United States.

Kele had reached out to Tiffany to share her work on her project; Tiffany then asked her to collaborate on this presentation at the conference.
“Telling the story is powerful,” Kele said about her presentation.

Implementing the program in Washington State

Kele is spreading this program originally created in New Zealand in Spokane, Washington, an area identified as underserved for evidence-based programs.

As part of the Otago Exercise Program, patients meet with a certified Otago therapist upon discharge from physical therapy to continue their exercises at home.
To give patients the support needed, a new pilot program provides training for caregivers to help seniors continue their exercises over the next year. The caregivers learn how to do the exercises themselves so they can, in turn, help who they are caring for.

Physical therapists put caregivers and patients in touch with their local area agency on aging who then provide dates for training and follow-up with patient progress over the next year.
Murdin also expressed the importance of healthcare providers becoming involved in their local communities.
“True community involvement takes time,” Kele said, “Physical therapists have so much to offer, and that’s where we can change population health.”

Free trainings

Kele developed a curriculum on how to educate caregivers about the Otago program and fall prevention. The first Otago training for caregivers will take place September 10 in Spokane, Washington. Upon a referral from their loved one’s physical therapist, caregivers can attend this free training.

Following the training, the local agency follows up with the caregivers to check on progress. It’s crucial that the senior keeps up his or her exercises. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows a 50 percent fall reduction when patients adhere to an exercise routine for a year following physical therapy.
“This is a critical thing for this program to work,” Kele said.

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